by Henry Chen
Much was at stake for Ma Long in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Knowing that at 27 years of age, it was arguably the best time for him to win Men’s Singles Olympic Games gold, the most coveted of prizes; the degree of pressure was high.
If the opportunity had been missed, Ma Long would never have forgiven himself.
Pressure is an unavoidable part of an athlete’s life and it is much greater being a member of the Chinese camp.
“In the Olympic Games, the pressure was really huge. Everyone is used to see us winning; it’s like we are not allowed to lose. It’s not just others can’t forgive you; you can’t forgive yourself as well. This kind of pressure I think is the biggest”, Ma Long
There is a high number of talented players competing for a chance to be on the world stage, the record of the national team in the past decade is without parallel. Add a strong sense of patriotism; these are the ingredients that contribute to the heated environment inside the Chinese Team.
“We grew up with pressure. When we entered into the national team, we already thought that defending the honour of our country is above all else. Even when I was still a child; because I represent the Chinese Team, I felt that I can’t lose. Gradually, I became used to it”, Ma Long
Four straight games; that was how Ma Long defeated pressure and teammate Zhang Jike in the Olympic Games Men’s Singles final. It meant he owned the most pivotal titles in the sport: World Cup, World Championships, and the Olympic Games.
A major result was that he received the 2016 CCTV (Chinese National Television) Best Male Sports Personality award.
“I feel extremely lucky. Although I was nominated twice, winning this time is very meaningful. It proves that my performance in the Olympic Games was recognised. It was also a successful conclusion of my 2016”, Ma Long
It was the perfect conclusion to a memorable period in the life of Ma Long.
“2016 was the Olympic year; all the finalists have the opportunity to receive the award. For a lot of years, everyone thinks that winning is a must for table tennis. Of course, I hoped to win but I didn’t think about it too much”, Ma Long