02 Jan 2017

In the last four months I have written over 100 articles for the ITTF, but there are a few stories that are very close to my heart, just because they are about our amazing athletes and their incredible journeys! Here's a list of my best 10 so far.

By Neha Aggarwal

Why is social media so important for table tennis?

Currently, the ITTF has 222 member national associations in six continents, the highest number of affiliations amongst all the other Olympic sports, more than volleyball.

The big question that arises here is: How do you connect such a worldwide audience?

As the age of internet of things dawns upon us, people are connected worldwide, 24/7 and are actively communicating on social platforms. With the combination of table tennis’ global appeal and ITTF’s spirited and relentless efforts on social and digital platforms, the day is not far when table tennis will be one of the most widely followed sport in the world.

Zhang Jike’s stardom explained: persistence, commitment and flamboyance

When Zhang Jike plays in China: The stadium is sold out with thousands of fans trying to gain a glimpse of him, vociferously chanting his name all day long, giving him an angelic status.

Why is he so famous? What is it so special about him that make the Chinese go gaga over him?

G.Sathiyan: Dawn of a new champion from the Indian subcontinent

Within every champion there exists a rookie who once faced obstacles and hardships, but with sheer grit, perseverance and commitment, conquered those tough times. G.Sathiyan’s story is no different. He battled hurdles that were pulling him back but as he nurtured the qualities of a champion, he moved his way up the ladder.

Ovtcharov speaks: Chinese domination, Samsonov rivalry, Yoga and the little angel

Competing at the highest level for any professional athlete can be stressful as he/she is constantly under the public eye and the added media pressure. This coupled with long and intense hours of training, can sometimes be stressful.

How does Ovtcharov overcome such pressure?

The answer is YOGA!

He reveals the secret, “As a world class player, I experience many stressful days. Its been two years since I have been practising yoga and meditation. Yoga helps to clear my mind and recharge my battery faster. Meditation helps me get some time for myself; its just me and my body. I like it a lot.”

Lily Zhang reflects on meeting President Barack Obama at the White House

At the White House, she hugged both POTUS and FLOTUS. When asked to describe what it felt like, Lily’s jumped with joy remembering that moment. She said, “You see them in the TV and news all the time, but when you see them up close and personal, they are just normal people like us. It was a great experience”

Being a part of such a tribute is truly magical. Lily describes, “Its super empowering to young girls to give them the message that they can do anything boys can do as well”

Indeed, when you are encouraged by the President himself, you feel empowered. Women in or outside sports need to be given the opportunity to dream and then the resources to full fill their dreams. At Rio, American women won more medals than men and this fact is true reflection to the importance women are given in the society.

Dina Meshref: A role model for African girls

A message for young girls, Dina says, “I tell them to work hard, try to manage both studies and sports. Doing both is possible and better for your long term well being. Its important to do things right with focus and concentration.”

Some women just defy odds to pursue their dreams.

Dina Meshref, a role model for young girls in Africa, is certainly doing so. She is on the path to break stereotypes and purse excellence in whatever she does. She is undoubtedly a role model for the young girls who seek inspiration and strength to pursue their own dreams.

“I have unfinished business in India” – Massimo Costantini

Back in 2010, Massimo did something magical. He brought a divided team all together. He inculcated a feeling of “togetherness” in the Indians.

At the award ceremony of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, as the Indian flag went up, the players standing on top of the podium had tears of joy in their eyes. Along with them, the players who were part of the training programme but did not make it to the team also shared the same emotion. The entire squad of 20 players who were part of the training programme, won. India as a nation, won.

Massimo Costantini is back in India to make it happen, all over again.

Mission: Gold Coast 2018.

Meet Si Wasserman: 94-year old table tennis player from the US

“Table tennis is largely responsible for my longevity. Both the brain and the body are involved and those are the two essential elements in life. I enjoy playing, the night before my practice session, I cannot stop thinking about it, and when I finally play it’s one of the best feelings in life!”

Inducted in the Hall of Fame of USA Table Tennis, Si Wasserman is a legend. He is not only an iconic figure for USA Table Tennis but also a true ambassador of the sport; his life is a testimony to the fact that table tennis can be played and enjoyed by people of all ages.

Watch him play and you will understand that magic, at 94, Wasserman is as young as the freshly blossomed spring flower!

Adriana Díaz: Latin America’s new sporting sensation

At the US Open in Las Vegas, the buzz in the crowd was to watch “the girl from Puerto Rico” play. She has a deadly counter attacking game close to the table and a brilliant defence, especially her lobs when steps away from the table.

Watch her hit the backhand smash down the line from her backhand side and it looks like the perfectly executed one ever by anyone. The commentators at the US Open called it as the signature Díaz shot.

Ryu Seungmin on a new mission as member of IOC Athletes’ Commission

Having all these responsibilities on one’s shoulders can be burdensome but Ryu Seungmin is determined. He said, “When I was an athlete, we just focused on our table tennis goals and objectives. I had a successful career as an athlete but now I need to learn how to succeed in my second life. The positions at the IOC and Korean Olympic Committee requires me to do well and be responsible.”

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