Ma Long: You Are in Your Best Year as Long as You Love What You Do
Ma began to play table tennis when he was five years old as a way to build up his health. He began to follow table tennis competitions regularly for the first time during the Olympics in Sydney in 2000.
That’s also when playing table tennis changed from a hobby to a bond that carried the dream of Ma. He attended the World Table Tennis Championships for the first time at 18 in Bremen and received his first team event title. In 2015, Ma won his first men’s singles gold in the World Championships.
Having won the men’s singles gold in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016, Ma had all the honors he needed to complete a grand slam record. “It’s the happiest moment in my life to watch the Chinese national flag fly because of me. Finally, I have realized my dream of making my country proud,” Ma said.
He was 28 years old after Rio 2016, but was already one of the most successful table tennis players in history. That’s why many began to ask: would he retire in his best year?
Ma’s coach Qin Zhijian asked him the same question: would they go to Tokyo in 2020? Ma said he wanted to because he could still play. Qin told him that alone was not enough for motivation. Ma admitted that he couldn’t fully understand what the coach meant back then.
马龙的教练秦志戬问了他同样的问题：2020年的东京奥运会他们还去吗？（原句是：下一个四年，走不走？怎么走？靠什么支撑你走？”）马龙回答，他想去，他还能打。 马龙承认他不能完全领会秦指的意思。 （2020年马龙完成了双圈大满贯）
What came along with Ma’s dominance were various injuries, especially with his knees. He gave up a lot of events from the second half of 2018 and stayed away from table tennis for as long as eight months.
Like the rest of the world, Ma used to have doubts if he could ever return to his best form after suffering so many injuries. “I realized at the darkest moment of my career that table tennis has become an integral part of my life. It has settled down inside me. I couldn’t love it more.”
As a professional athlete, Ma had to face winning and losing in every match he played. “Your only way to success is through the will to win and hard-work. But sports taught us more than just winning and losing. We must have the bravery to start over after losing and the faith of not giving up even in desperate times,” Ma said.