World Table Tennis Championships in Yokohama in 2009 for men and women’s singles finals played on the 5th of this month. Chinese top seed Wang Hao (王皓) and Olympic singles champion Zhang Yining (张怡宁) won the respective men’s and women’s singles title. All the five gold medals at World Table Tennis Championships in Yokohama were bagged by China. China achieved another “sweep” in world table tennis championships history.
Different times, different social backgrounds, the feelings towards and the interpretation of the word “sweep” are very different now. “Sweep” is no longer a synonymous of “great”. In all World Series as long as the Chinese table tennis team participates, the controversy over China taking all the gold medals has never stopped. World Table Tennis Championships in Yokohama is no exception. When the Chinese team swept all individual gold and silver for the fourth time, many are questioning the situation: This Chinese monopoly is extremely harmful to the development of table tennis as a sport. If others are not playing any more, how do you play?
In fact, China wants to “let a hundred flowers blossom”. The taste of winning sure is good, but after a while it is definitely lonely. In the world sports, table tennis is a non-mainstream sport with very limited influences. If China’s table tennis monopoly perpetuates, the popularity of the sport and development will certainly be affected. Therefore, early on China already started the “keep the wolf plan”. Before the matches in Yokohama, Cai Zhenhua (蔡振华) said the Chinese team is not only to bring home gold, but also bears the responsibility of promoting and developing the sport. Thus, in the mixed doubles only sent the new and inexperienced players. Ma Lin (马琳), Zhang Yining (张怡宁) and other veterans did not participate in doubles, but even so, the other teams are still unable to encroach on the gold medal.
China cannot even “give away” gold medals when tries to. This is no doubt awkward. From the point of view of Liu Guoliang (刘国梁) and Shi Zhihao (施之皓), taking gold medals are more the merrier, sports is all about being competitive. Giving away gold medal is impossible to do, but now we worry about this situation. However, the prediction of table tennis will become a Chinese game which others will avoid to play, I am afraid, is too pessimistic. Even if it is unrelated to gold medals, the charm of table tennis will not be reduced. There will still be obsessed people over the world for this purpose. What will be affected is mainly the enthusiasm of the countries (or regions) towards table tennis competitions, also the sponsors and funding.
Even more embarrassing to the Chinese people is, Chinese table tennis is so strong, but China’s table tennis market do not always draw a large audience. Table Tennis League (乒超) is to create so-called tennis "NBA", but there are only a handful of fans buy tickets and watch the matches in recent years. In many large cities league teams cannot sustain, they have to move their home court to remote areas. Competition in the world on the other hand, Germany and Japan despite of their poor performance, their table tennis leagues are booming. In the table tennis commercial market, there are many Chinese brand equipments, however brand from Japan, Germany, Sweden are much more popular worldwide. This contrast should make the decision-makers think. Ultimately, since table tennis is considered the sport of the country, it is necessary to let the market results match the table tennis results in the World Series . Otherwise, the Chinese table tennis will always be a "lame Giant."
Cai Zhenhua: Sweep means failure
“The fact proved we failed again.” As the VIP of Yokohama Stadium, the Sate Sports General Administration deputy director Cai Zhenhua feels the meaning of “It’s lonely at the top”. Cai holding 5 gold, said this with mixed feelings.
Regarding to the questions and concerns of the world, the head of China Table Tennis Cai Zhenhua states "Ordinary people worry that the Chinese table tennis is taking the wrong step, to become the beginning of the decline of the sport. But if in all the world championship games, China wins all as long as they participate, this is certainly a negative. If we do not want to continue to monopolize some works must be done."
This includes sharing with the world’s table tennis team of China’s successful experience, and even in person by the coach to guide the main opponents. If we assume the experiences of the Chinese team is a “secret menu", Cai Zhenhua is willing share 70% of the menu to the rest of the world. "These can be shared with the world, which is 70%. It can be used for many associations for long time, because they are the basics."
Media referred to as "raising(keep) the wolf plan," which Cai Zhenhua does not completely agree with. He said: "It is not a appropriate way to say. However, the Chinese do need a little more ping-pong opponent, only to make the game more exciting, I personally hope this is the case." Cai Zhenhua hopes that the Chinese Table Tennis Association plans to promote the sports can receive understanding and support. "We cannot force the rules that Chinese players are not to win them all, which is unfair to them. And international public opinion will say that the Chinese team is manipulating the games, contrary to the spirit of sports." Once the scheme is successful, the future of table tennis in China will inevitably lose some games. At that time how will Chinese Table Tennis Association deal with this? "There are things that are more important than others at times. I will now give more consideration to allow and help the opponent to be stronger. After this stage, the situation changes, our focus will change."
As early as the third day of the World Table Tennis Championships, State Sports General Administration deputy director Cai Zhenhua, mentioned a concern. "If from a single association, from the coaches, the athletes’ point of view, the Chinese team to have such great results is one thing, but I personally have some anxiety, because from the perspective of development the sport in the world this is very dangerous." (By Tommy张宇)