21 Aug 2016

Four years ago, Zhang Jike was the only Grand Slam winner who is still active in the men's division. Several days ago, it became two as Ma Long successfully secured the only medal lacking in his collection, the Olympic Singles gold. According to Liu Guoliang, these two players can still adhere with the competition and the future can be very exciting.

By Henry Chen 

The Chinese Team faced the issue on retirement as soon as matters concluded in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The women’s team already had its first player to announce her retirement and she is the 2016 Olympic silver medalist Li Xiaoxia.

As for the men’s team, no one has indicated some plans of retirement yet. But Liu Guoliang already has some thoughts about the issue.

“If they want to play, they can definitely play,” said the head coach.

The winner of the Olympic Men’s Singles title and the newest Grand Slam champion in the men’s division, Ma Long will be turning 28 this October. By the next Olympic Games, he will be 31.

Although that is already a retiring age for most Chinese players, Liu Guoliang believes otherwise.

“I feel Ma Long can certainly go to Tokyo Olympic Games,” he said.

Ma Long sending some love after winning the Olympic Singles gold in Rio. (Photo by ITTFWorld)

Zhang Jike has played in two Olympic Games. He secured two gold medals in London and four years later, he earned a gold and a silver. Would he be able to adhere for a third Olympic Games?

“As for Zhang Jike it depends on him. If he feels that playing is interesting then he has a very big chance, unless he feels weary and tired,” Liu Guoliang answered.

The recently concluded Rio Olympic Games was another successful expedition for the Chinese Team. After all, both their players, Ma Long & Zhang Jike made it into the finals. For the head coach, the future could be exciting with these two rare players.

“I feel that these two players are very rare, especially after Ma Long’s rise. This will have an impact on the sport. Zhang Jike originally seemed a bit lonely. Now that there are two of them already in the arena, he will not feel the same way again. I think the future will be very exciting,” concluded Liu Guoliang.

Ma Long versus Zhang Jike in the 2016 Rio Olympic Singles finals. (Photo by ITTFWorld)
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