Table tennis star notes vast improvements as Shanghai becomes global sports city

Ma Yue
From training in the basement to becoming a world champion, Wang Liqin witnessed the development of China's sport.
Ma Yue
Table tennis star notes vast improvements as Shanghai becomes global sports city

Wang Liqin

Personal profile

Wang Liqin was born in Shanghai in June, 1978.

He started playing table tennis at the age of 6. At 13, he was selected for the Shanghai team. Two years later, he became a member of the national reserve team. By 17, he was promoted to the first-division team.

Right-handed Wang is a versatile player known for his fast loop, powerful shots and all-round ability. He has reached the top of the podium several times at the Olympic Games and World Championships during his two-decade career. He was ranked World No. 1 for 26 successive months.

Having made great contribution to table tennis in China, Wang retired in 2014 and stepped into sports training and management. In April, 2018, he became the director of Shanghai Sports Bureau’s competitive sport department.

Wang’s table tennis career and his story are the epitome of the 40 years of rapid development in China’s sport after the country’s reform and opening-up. Wang will continue to work hard in his new occupation in the future.

My story

Table tennis star notes vast improvements as Shanghai becomes global sports city

"I was born in Shanghai in 1978. Zhabei District’s sports school organized a student selection when I was in kindergarten. The coach thought I was quick-witted, and asked if I was willing to play table tennis. I said I liked it and was therefore selected.

Neither of my parents are in the sports industry. 

Hard as the conditions were, we had to train in the basement in the sports school. The roof was too low for us to play high balls. The rubber on the racket was used too often and had lost its friction. When the coach changed the rubber for me, I would be happy for days.

In 1991 I was 13 and joined the Shanghai team. The training shifted into Shanghai Indoor Stadium and our conditions were slightly improved. We trained in the corridor between two volleyball courts.

There was a batch of dedicated coaches from amateur sports schools at the grassroots level. My first coach, Shen Yiming, was one of them, and he influenced me a lot. He was very strict to me, which helped me to build up solid fundamental skills.

After I entered the Shanghai team, he often reminded me to seize the day and work hard to enter the national team, so that I could seek further personal development and win glory for the country.

In those days, everyone was making their contribution for the same goal of boosting China’s table tennis despite the limited conditions. I never dared lag behind and worked hard. I entered the national reserve team in 1993. Two years later, I was in the first-division team.

The hard conditions back in my childhood become history with the rapid development of China’s sports industry. Shanghai's table tennis team moved into the training base in Shanghai Oriental Land in 2002. The base has a stamina training room on the first floor and table tennis courts on the second floor. It was bright and spacious with complete equipment."

Table tennis star notes vast improvements as Shanghai becomes global sports city

"Now the conditions there have been further improved. Apart from trainers, there are also professional back up supporting staff, as well as scientific research and medical teams.

Of all the competitions I have taken part in, the 2005 World Championship in Shanghai was the most memorable one. The Chinese men’s national team lost the men’s single title in international competitions in 2003 and 2004, so for us, the pressure was huge.

Shanghai hosted the championship, which gave us a lot of confidence. I met Ma Lin in the final, and eventually won my second World Championship men’s singles title. That championship was rated as one of the best by ITTF and international guests regarding its organization and services. It proved Shanghai’s ability to host international sports events.

Athletes make transitions after retirement, and I stepped into sports management. I have worked over a month in Shanghai Sports Bureau’s competitive sports department. I hope Shanghai continues to play a leading role in China’s competitive sports.

China’s sports industry is walking into a new era, while Shanghai is targeting at becoming a world-known sports city. Internet technology is bringing sports closer to citizens. Social platforms are shortening the distance between athletes and their fans. Many table tennis players will share their stories behind competitions with fans to promote table tennis culture and positive attitudes.

Sport is becoming an indispensable part of people’s lives. Athletes of my generation should become both inheritors and propagators of Shanghai’s table tennis spirit and culture. We will pass the baton on to the next generations and help Shanghai to make more achievements in table tennis and sports."

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