By Henry Chen
In 2012, Li Xiaoxia conquered the London Olympic Games after she defeated her compatriot Ding Ning in a five-game duel. Four years later in Rio, she found herself in the same situation but this time she was overcame.
Li Xiaoxia settled with the silver against Ding Ning after she lost in 3-4. It may have been a loss but it still made the head coach praise her.
“Li Xiaoxia is relatively firm. Her service fooled Ding Ning,” Kong Linghui said.
Before the Rio Olympic Games, Li Xiaoxia went through a difficult time in her career. Injuries plagued her which affected her competitive spirit. She doubted herself and planned on her retirement.
However, such idea was not entertained by the coaching staff. China’s Sports Director Cai Zhenhua even stepped in just to encourage the Grand Slam champion to continue her active service in the Chinese National Team. Eventually, she did.
“The team really needs her,” Kong Linghui added. “As long as she can maintain her confidence, then she can give an extremely big amount of pressure to her opponent. After arriving in Rio, her preparation was extremely methodical and that is because of her experience. She will do something every day. She’s extremely detailed.”
In the Olympic Singles in Rio, Li Xiaoxia delivered the goods. She successfully fulfilled her mission just by reaching the finals and Kong Linghui appreciates all her efforts.
So does this mean that the Chinese Team will be bidding farewell to Li Xiaoxia soon?
“Li Xiaoxia played well today (in the finals) and there wasn’t any part from her that showed a decline in quality. So discussing about retirement is clearly out of place,” the head coach answered.
Furthermore, Kong Linghui revealed that Li Xiaoxia hasn’t proposed any plans of retirement yet, and not long ago, the player said to him that she plans to play for one more year.