by Wade Townsend
With the Marvellous 12 behind us and the guaranteed spots already secured, China recently announced their final selections for the Liebherr 2017 World Championships. While there were few surprises, the devil is in the detail, and Liu Guoliang recently gave an interview highlighting the process that went in to China’s decisions.
Liu is increasingly focused on the development of table tennis worldwide, so much so that great attention was given to the doubles pairings, and in particular the international combinations.
“The most important pairing from different nations this time is with Germany. Especially, the pairing of Timo and Ma Long. It will exert a huge impact on Germany and internationally. Now, the goal for the Chinese table tennis team is not only to gain the gold, but also to promote the popularity of table tennis. If a pair from different nations can achieve a good result, I think this will significantly advance the development of table tennis in Europe.” Liu Guoliang
When it came to selecting the athletes for the Men’s Singles, it was a matter of putting trust in experience.
“Fan Zhendong and Lin Gaoyuan already got their tickets in the Marvelous 12. Zhang Jike, Ma Long and Xu Xin are Olympic Champions. They have good advantage in the strength, age and experience.”
The current health of Ma Long and Zhang Jike wasn’t mentioned. But after their withdrawal with injury at the Marvellous 12, obviously the selectors feel there is enough time for both to be in peak condition by Dusseldorf.
For the women’s selections Liu expressed continued confidence in their developing players.
“Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng were the focus-trained players to the team in the last Olympic cycle, but they didn’t have too many achievements. The reason we still give them the chance to compete is to show they are still key players in the team.”
Liu has high hopes for all his players, but after a bronze medal in Suzhou, the exceptions now on Mu Zi are extreme.
“Mu Zi was the semi-finalist at the Suzhou WTTC. I hope she can be an unexpected power this time!”
What do you think of the selections?