Ma Long has become the greatest table tennis player of all time. I wrote a blog about a year ago comparing Ma to Jan Ove Waldner. Back then JO had my vote and honestly, Waldner will always be the greatest (for me personally). But in reality and factually Ma Long has the crown of the true table tennis GOAT.
I first saw Ma when he was 16 years old. I remember instantly being drawn to him, he had this aura about him. A twinkle few have but they seem to shine above the rest and Ma was the new JOW. Special people like Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Michael Phelps come along once every 20 years. Ma Long, had a technique that I had not witnessed before, big strokes but they were so efficient that he could implement them graciously. He seemed humble and he was a perfect athlete which enabled him to execute all his shots with immense power. I knew straight away Ma would become world no.1 and one of the games great players.
Having followed him for 14 years now, I witnessed his ups and downs and the ups are great but it’s the downs that show people’s true character. Zhang Jike has many ups and when the down times came he never truly turned it around into a positive.
Ma Long was not picked for the 2012 Olympic singles, he lost 3 world singles semifinals to Wang Hao, he suffered injury in 2018 and was out for over half a year. Yet Ma Long has taken all the downs and managed to turn each one into a positive.
Liu has always been a peoples champion and often came up short on the big occasion but this month she finally did it. Liu is not the greatest player seen in women’s table tennis but she will go down in history as a world champion and someone who doesn’t take no for an answer.
The true greats, if you look carefully they do not have a flawless record. They often have huge failures and find ways of recreating themselves and producing super records via their ability to turn the tough times into something special.
A true champion has the heart of a lion, their spirit comes out when times are tough.a