By Neha Aggarwal
Recap to 2014 Leibherr Men’s World Cup: Zhang Jike defeats Ma Long in one of the most dramatic finals, celebrates by kicking the arena and then flamboyantly removes his shirt and throws it off into the crowd. The fans love it.
Recap to 1st round Men’s singles 1981 Wimbledon : John McEnroe is playing against Tom Gullikson, the umpire gives a bad call, McEnroe erupts: “You can’t be serious, man. YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! That ball was on the line! Chalk flew up! It was clearly in! You guys are the absolute pits of the world…”
The Atypical Champions
Both Zhang Jike and John McEnroe are unusual champions that are a treat to watch. Their quirky, unusual behavior on the court draws attention of the fans, they want to watch them even the more.
The fans love the outbursts of their emotion, the emotion that comes out from the quest to be a perfectionist and a rebel.
Zhang Jike’s charismatic appeal, evident even from his online fandom, added to his carefree aura brings in more drama each time he plays. His famous celebrations after winning matches give goose bumps to the fans. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest table tennis athletes of all times, but he is also famously known for his unpredicted post match winning celebrations than anything else.
For John McEnroe, he may be one of the greatest tennis players in the world, proud owner of seven Grand Slam singles titles, but he’ll always be best known for his tantrums on court and the fury that he would vent at umpires and his racquets. He would walk out of press conferences and “do what like liked to do.”
Perhaps, if Zhang Jike were to be as vocal as John McEnore, he would completely emulate the legend.
But there is more to him…
The roots in Soccer
Zhang Jike has a soccer connect too. He was named after the legendary Brazilian soccer player Zico who was also known as “White Pele”. He was the greatest Brazilian soccer player that captured hearts of millions of fans not only in Brazil, but even world wide. Jike’s father wanted him to play soccer but due to lack of structured training system in soccer in china, he was put into Table Tennis so that he could train well in a systematic way and become a master in the sport.
One can see the Zico inside him erupt occasionally, and sometimes the John McEnroe.
We wonder who he really is?