21 Dec 2016

Learning from the best; if discussions took place about the name of the best player ever to have graced the table tennis arenas of the world, the name of Zhang Yining would without any argument fall into the category of the highest excellence; a record of never having lost a match in any event at an Olympic Games is just one of her quite incredible achievements.

Make a list of 30 attributes you need to be a world class player and Zhang Yining would score top marks in each; she was born to play table tennis.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

It is from her knowledge, in addition to the likes of former Chinese international Feng Zhe and Li Xiaodong, the wise sage who has guided the fortunes of the likes of Wang Liqin and Ma Long in their formative years; that young players from across the globe have been able recently able to learn.

Met in Luxembourg

Organised under the auspices of the ITTF Training and Education initiative and in conjunction with the China Table Tennis College and the China Table Tennis College – Europe, a specially selected group of young players were present in the Duchy of Luxembourg from Tuesday 6th to Monday 12th September.

Directed most admirably by Dejan Papic, the ITTF Education and Training Co-ordinator, an intense seven days was the order proceedings as the talents of some of world’s most promising young players were honed.


Brazil’s Eduardo Tomoike keeps the pen-hold grip style alive (Photo: courtesy of Dejan Papic)

Increasing knowledge

All benefited but of course none will be immediately transformed into world beaters; there is no magic wand in sport. It is now a case of returning home and putting the knowledge learned into practice and practice, practice and practice.

Thus with the assimilation of knowledge in mind, national coaches from the associations represented were also present.

Arguably that was the most important factor in the exercise, if those who teach have a greater understanding of the sport, increase knowledge then their aspiring diamonds will glisten even brighter in the spotlight.


Owen Cathcart is the bright young hope for Ireland (Photo: courtesy of Dejan Papic)

Hard work

An experience to remember for a group of talented young players but word of caution; the view of Denmark’s now retired Michael Maze must be heeded; he stated that as junior you can win on talent alone, to achieve as a senior in addition you must work, work and work.

Now for the sparkling diamonds who met in Luxembourg, hard work awaits back home.


Vladimir Sidorenko won the Cadet Boys’ Singles title earlier this year at the European Youth Championships (Photo: courtesy of Dejan Papic)


Diamonds Training: List of players and coaches

High Performance and Development Athletes