edited by Wade Townsend
Q: Women’s team head coach Kong Linghui analysed the defeat from a technical aspect. How do you regard, as the Chinese team head coach, the Chinese women players’ performance?
A: It’s definitely bad to lose the match, but we can see it in a good way. They sent a warning message. We used to say, “the wolf is coming”, and still we have a huge advantage against the Japanese team. Even if the wolf really comes, it neither causes us panic nor shakes our confidence; it’s just an alert.
Q: Actually if you look into Miu Hirano’s background, you will notice some “Chinese elements”. She has had two Chinese coaches, and she also benefits from the Chinese Super League.
A: Yes, it’s absolutely helpful to her. The competition in China is different from the training in Japan.
Q: Some news mentioned that the new ball is made in Japan, which is different from the ball we use in training, makes them adapt to the game more easily?
A: We also have that ball.
Q: You also mentioned the “Wolf Plan”, will Miu Hirano become a wolf, like Waldner, a figure that can compete with so many generations of the Chinese team?
A: Many years have past and there comes only one wolf, there’s no need for the public to panic! I’d say it’s rather interesting if a group of “wolves” come. From every aspect, we should be generous that the others have improved. As a powerful table tennis country, we congratulate them; and witnessing their improvement, we should be more confident at the same time. They improve and so do we. After the Olympics every country has spent more time on systematic training. Winning or losing a match isn’t the most important thing. It’s a good phenomenon. This time in Asian Table Tennis Championships they sent us a warning message, if we lost the game in World Table Tennis Championships (WTTC) the impact would be huge. We have been dominant in table tennis for more than ten years, so sometimes we ignore the sense of urgency. In 2003 our men’s team lost the WTTC, they have never been beaten after 2005. So Ma Long and Zhang Jike have always been part of a winning generation. They don’t know how painful it is to lose a match. So I think this time’s defeat may be a good thing.
In a further interview Liu Guoliang went on to add:
I thought she got the World Cup title because no Chinese National Team member was there, but this time I think she is a serious contender. I think she surpassed the all the Japanese players we know so far. Especially she certainly surpassed the young players we have like Zhu Yuling and Chen Meng. She is only 17 years old so has room to grow, on the other hand, don’t forget we have room to grow too! Also, don’t forget, Hirano’s personal coach and her Super League coach, both are Chinese; they gave Hirano a lot of influence and help. This involves strategies and skills, you can see those are the results of specific training. But we don’t need to panic because she is “Made in China”.