(by Steve Hopkins/Photo Courtesy of ITTF)
As much of the table tennis world is beginning to emerge from their various lockdown circumstances, many are discussing how they have had to stay fit with robots, limited training partners, and other hardships. This is not the case with the Chinese Team. China’s National Team was abroad as COVID-19 began to spread in their country in February, and they made a decision to stay abroad. They first found refuge in Qatar, where they ran a training camp for 29 team members ahead of the ITTF Platinum Qatar Open. When that event concluded in the first week of March, they then traveled to Macao where they have remained as a group.
In one Xinhua interview last month, Li Sun, the head coach of their Women’s Team indicated that their training had not been affected much in Macao. In fact, it appears that the Chinese team spent several week focusing on fitness and fundamentals, and then have been transitioning to inter-squad competitions. That is, while much of the world has been without full competition and training options, the Chinese have been training hard in isolation for months. And their inter-squad groups include 5 of the top 8 ranked men in the world and 6 of the top 7 ranked women in the world.
A July 8th ITTF article titled “The life of an athlete under lockdown – Ma Long reveals” confirmed the other reports. Ma Long has indicated that he has fully recovered from his injuries and that he has been focused on physical training. He goes on to indicate that he has spent more time focused on physical training and fitness during these last three months than ever in his career.
The Chinese team plans to return to China late this month, and they plan to resume playing in competitions in August. They appear ready to reveal a a stronger and better Team China to the world. Is the world ready?