by Ian Marshall, Editor
Born in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, the home of the Qoros 2015 World Championships; by profession Zhou Jianguo is real estate manager, notably in 2012 he was involved in a 4.5 billion yuan project. Successful but the lure of table tennis was too great.
“There is a popular saying in China; “the world is big, I want to see it”; that sentence touched me.” Zhou Jianguo
A decision maker in the real estate business but his biggest decision was to assume the role as the man at the helm of the first ever ITTF World Veteran Tour tournament.
“I have enjoyed playing table tennis since high school; this sport has allowed me to make many friends. Moreover, people who like table tennis are very good people. I thought about it for a whole year. I decided to pursue what I liked. I quit my real estate job. I joined an internet company that operates table tennis competitions. At that time, my income was greatly reduced, so my wife and I had a big fight. In the end, she supported me.” Zhou Jianguo
Family support but the lifestyle change presented a major challenge; in many ways it was start from the very beginning.
“I changed from an expert in real estate to a novice on the internet; there was a huge price to pay. Every day I have to work harder than others because I don’t understand as much as they do. I invested all my salary in transportation because there are a lot of events happening in China every day; I have to go to the scene to learn. I study all aspects; for example, arrangements for the athletes, the work of the referee, television broadcasts, arrangements for spectators; learning to co-ordinate everything.” Zhou Jianguo
A novice but that is modesty, Zhou Jianguo is rapidly gaining experience; he’s the sort of person who sets a target and then seeks to go beyond that target. He would happy if someone could organize 36 hours in a day!
“In 2015 I was the leader of a diplomatic exchange competition at the Suzhou World Championships. In 2017, I was the leader of the sand bat table tennis competition in London. I have participated in many innovative table tennis competitions. For example, the first competition using lights and sound; the competition was held in a television studio, the company is called Happy Table Tennis, an interesting company. Later in 2017, I was most honoured to be invited to participate in work regarding the Chinese Table Tennis Super League. You know, this is the top club league in China.” Zhou Jianguo
Involved with the very best, conversely Zhou Jianguo is just as happy promoting table tennis at grass roots level.
“I also serve young people who like table tennis online. I became one of the administrators of China’s largest table tennis forums. I hope table tennis can bring happiness to more young people. In 2018, I participated in the shooting of a television series. There are plenty of games and practice scenes involving table tennis. I was the technical director of table tennis for the whole television series. I arranged all competitions, exercises, stunts and techniques. After the shooting of the television series, I set up a table tennis club in Shenzhen with a friend. The name is Guohong Table Tennis Club. We try to invite foreign coaches to teach table tennis. Many people say I’m crazy.” Zhou Jianguo
Crazy; maybe I should pose that question to his wife?
“Every parent, every friend, every person who plays table tennis tells me that China is the king of table tennis; why do you invite foreigners they ask? And you also let foreigners teach table tennis! In fact, I have my own reasons. They can teach English, share their own experiences, explain table tennis techniques in different ways and can advise the experience of playing many world competitions. China has a large number of new athletes every year but how many people can finally participate in the Olympic Games?” Zhou Jianguo
Now this is where Zhou Jianguo is not crazy, I would suggest he is very astute and thinking beyond accepted boundaries.
“The foreign coaches I invited have world rankings and have participated in many world competitions. I have to thank Russia’s Maxim Shmyrev and Lily Yip from the United States. Through their help I successfully organised an International Table Tennis Training Camp and exchange with the help of world champion, Werner Schlager.” Zhou Jianguo
Welcoming challenges, the current for Zhou Jianguo is the World Veteran Tour; he revelling in the opportunity even though he has experienced obstacles.
“The World Veteran Tour competition, for me, may be the highest level of competition I have undertaken; I believe it will be very difficult for me to organise a higher level of competition in the future. Internet links between China and foreign countries has been a problem. It is difficult to link the registration address in mainland China. There are many restrictions on the internet in China. Often we can’t open the ITTF registration link. In addition, the need to use foreign currency credit cards, it is also a very big obstacle. Thirdly, it is very difficult for the elderly people in China who do not know English. In view of this registration question, I suggest that the next Chinese athlete’s registration adopts a way of a domestic registration agent, use WeChat payment and Alipay. Moreover, the registration interface must be in Chinese.” Zhou Jianguo
Exacting times but true to his character, Zhou Jianguo is positive.
“It will be a very difficult task to do well in this competition. Nevertheless, I welcome friends from all over the world to participate in the competition in China. I hope they will feel the passion for table tennis in China. I also hope that more players will communicate with Chinese players. I hope we can make a contribution and give a service for people who like table tennis. I hope to see beautiful table tennis.” Zhou Jianguo
Over 50 volunteers will be present; a special occasion awaits in Shenzhen; entries close on Tuesday 9th July.