15 Nov 2016

Whether in troubled times or in victories, coach Qin Zhijian has always been with Ma Long in his athletic career.

The coach remembered the time when Ma Long lost to Wang Hao in the World Championships semi-final round for the third time. The player was very down. But after overcoming such difficulty, Ma Long went straight to the Olympic victory. All those times, Ma Long had the backing from his coach.

By Henry Chen

Ma Long has long been considered a strong force in the men’s division of table tennis. Once in the arena, he will immediately intimidate his opponents with his powerful attacks. Before you know it, he is already near victory.

However, despite that image, Ma Long was in trouble in big competitions specifically the World Championships.

According to his personal coach, Qin Zhijian, Ma Long was devastated in the Liebherr 2013 World Championships. Ma Long, at that time, lost to Wang Hao in the semi-final round for the third consecutive time.

The coach even revealed that Ma Long came to the point of giving up the sport.

But Coach Qin Zhijain did not give up on Ma Long. He continued to encourage the player. Indeed, their perseverance and hope bore fruit in the Qoros 2015 World Championships held in Suzhou. This time, Ma Long finally overcame the shadows of his past defeats.

“The championship title is the product of what I have invested for so many years.” Qin Zhijian was so happy.

After such victory. Ma Long became more confident and decisive. Everything became clear for one goal and that is the Olympic Games. Ma Long eventually got qualified to play in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Despite rigorous preparations, Ma Long still encountered some difficulties in the Singles competition. The Chinese player was behind in 0-2 against Jeong Youngsik of Korea Republic in round 16. Coach Qin Zhijian admitted that he felt fear during that time.

“Honestly speaking, there was a little fear but I believe Ma Long can still do it,” he said.

Indeed, Ma Long recovered and advanced further in the competition. He reached the finals and faced his compatriot Zhang Jike.

“Ma Long and Zhang Jike played very firmly in the final match. But I still believe that Ma Long can win. I have always thought that way in the competition,” Qin Zhijian explained.

Ma Long after sealing the victory in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games Men’s Singles final. (Photo by Rémy Gross)

In four games, Ma Long secured the title, finally completing his Grand Slam feat. At this point, Qin Zhijian felt very fulfilled:

“I felt very happy. I felt that everything that I have invested paid off.”

Ma Long is already 28. He will be 31 in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Would Qin Zhijian still accompany his disciple?

“Yes. I will not retire,” Qin Zhijian concluded.

Ma Long with his coach Qin Zhijian. (Photo from Sina Sports)
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