by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The equation is very simple, provide the arena, provide the theatre and the players respond, the level rises. Add to that calculation the incredible support that has been witnessed from the Brazilian crowd, whether it is one of their own or a player from foreign shores, the ideal setting for top class sport has been created.
“It is quite surprising, the crowd is so incredibly passionate” said Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, whose performance in the Women’s Singles event was not quite to level as expected; a quarter-final defeat against Japan’s Ai Fukuhara was not be anticipated against an adversary she has beaten time and time again.
However, she laid no blame whatsoever for her defeat at the hands of the venue, the equipment or the organisation.
“When you have four tables and there is a lot of noise from the crowd focused on another table, then you have to push yourself hard to concentrate”, added Feng Tianwei. “When it is just one table then it is very different, it is motivating,”
It was a view supported by Ma Long.
“I think it goes both ways; winning or when I have been losing everything has been fine”, he stressed. “Here I can have no complaints, for me it has been a great experience.”
Moreover, it has been a great experience watching him play; the level he has displayed has been quite stunning and he has not been losing that often!
“Regarding the floor, I think if we played on red one day, blue the next and then green, it might be a problem but here it is no problem at all, it is very good”, added Ma Long. “You soon adapt.”
Pleased with the floor supplied by the Tinsue Company, it was exactly the same reaction of Ma Long with regards to the equipment supplied by the world renowned and highly respected manufacturers San-Ei and Double Happiness.
San-Ei provides the table, Double Happiness the ball.
“The plastic ball is getting better and better, here the bounce is consistent on any part of the table”, he said, “I have had a good feeling for the ball, you can have total confidence in all the equipment; the ball is very good, the table is also very good.”
Notably, few players have hit the ball harder and more often than Ma Long; to date I have not seen him break a single ball.
“We played a match against Korea, it went the full five match distance; we just used one ball, there was no problem whatsoever”, added Feng Tianwei. “We play all over the world, humidity makes a difference but here the air conditioning has been very good, no problems at all.”
Positive words from Ma Long and Feng Tianwei, it was the same from Thomas Weikert, the President of the International Table Tennis Federation.
“I have spoken to many players and everyone tells me the quality is good, all the regulations have been met”, he stressed.
Ask Ma Long
Always there will be somebody who will moan; there are those who will moan if there beer is cold but make no mistake in Rio de Janeiro, the venue, the floor, the table and the ball are all of the very highest standards.
Just ask Ma Long and he should know, he is the best player on planet earth and beyond.