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    #61
    Zhang Lei, the head coach of Team Beijing, who has coached Grand Slam winners Zhang Yining, Ding Ning and Ma Long, just revealed stories of Ma Long in Rio and Düsseldorf.
    “I want to write a book about Ma Long” --Interview with Zhang Lei
    An oil painting of Zhang Lei hugging Ma Long is hung on the wall of Zhang Lei’s office. Since sending his student to the National Team some fourteen years ago, Zhang Lei has accompanied Ma Long on his way to a Grand Slam winner. “This kid has been through a lot.” Zhang Lei told the reporter of Beijing Morning Post, “As a coach of the provincial team, it is my job to assist the National Team. All my efforts are worthwhile.”

    Communication “tactics”
    Zhang Lei said jokingly that he will write a book about Ma Long when it is time. There are too many stories about the highs and lows of his student in the National Team. “Ma Long stood out the earliest but experienced the toughest. There is no sudden fame in his career. He overcame one obstacle after another.”
    In 2012, Ma Long attended the Olympic Games for the first time, only to play in the team event. He was on the waiting list of singles. Zhang Lei recalled that the experience of the Olympic Games shook Ma Long up. “The new Grand Slam winner was not him, which was quite a shock for him. The following four years were tough in his career.” In 2013, Ma Long lost to Wang Hao in the semifinal of WTTC, for the third time. His career took a nosedive. “He lost to Wang Hao twice and Zhang Jike defeated Wang Hao twice to get World Champion titles. You can imagine his feelings.”
    Ma Long does not like to talk about his true feelings. In order to learn what he thinks about, Zhang Lei has developed tactics. “Look into his eyes and try to tease the truth out of him. ‘How’s your sleep last night?’ ‘Have you overthought again?’ When he no longer smiles, he must be overthinking.” Ma Long had thought about giving up table tennis when he was down, “If I were not able to win World Champion in Suzhou, I would quit.” This desperate struggle led to a victory in Suzhou. Zhang Lei regarded it as the turning point of Ma Long’s career.
    Achievements in Rio
    Ma Long kept improving and was qualified undoubtedly for singles of Rio Olympic Games. During the closed training session, Ma Long had only one thing in mind, according to Zhang Lei. “He cared nothing but the Olympic Games. He did not drop a single training class and had to change eight outfits a day. I witnessed the whole training session and the result turned out to be very good.”
    They did not meet in Rio during the whole tournament. Zhang Lei invited Ma Long to his apartment with his signature fried rice as a treat; however, Ma Long did not come. (*Note: Before winning her final, Ding Ning came to the apartment that Zhang Lei rent and ate Zhang Lei’s signature fried rice. That’s the reason why he invited Ma Long before his final.) “When I was about to make the fried rice, I forgot to pour oil to the wok before I put rice. I was overwhelmed by the upcoming final.” Zhang Lei said, “Then Ma Long called me saying that he would not come over and would have a nap instead. We kept talking for about 30 minutes, mainly on some technical details, and I tried to cheer him up. I felt settled after the call. I had done my job and there was no regret for the final.”
    Zhang Lei was less stressed about the final than two crucial matches that Ma Long played earlier. “The first one is the match against Jung Young-sik in the second round. I ran away when Ma Long was 0-2 down. I felt hopeless if he was knocked out after four years of hardworking. I was told of the scores by others but I did not go back to the arena. I was worried that he would fall behind again if I watched. After the match, I did not contact Ma Long. I told Coach Qin Zhijian that the journey in the Olympic Games cannot be smooth.” The second one is the semifinal against Jun Mizutani. He led 3-0 and was caught up by 2 sets. Luckily he secured the victory in the sixth set.

    Calm about the popularity
    After winning the Grand Slam, Ma Long becomes popular on social media. Invitations to all kinds of social events pile up after Rio Olympic Games. Ma Long is calm about the popularity and knows what he really wants. “He doesn’t want his training and tournaments get affected by too much exposure. After Rio, he still follows his routine of rest and training. He attended some social events and shot some commercials right after Rio but soon came back to play CTTSL and National Championships. At the beginning of this year, he even asked me when we shall start to prepare for the National Games.”
    After Rio, Zhang Lei discussed with Ma Long on the next four years. “I told him, ‘If you are serious about playing in the next four years, you have to resist all distractions.’ And that’s what he is doing. He has declined most of the endorsements and social events. He still stays focused on his career as a player and makes it clear that he will not go into show business. He told me that he will not sign with any agent and get restricted, especially from his training.”
    Behind-the-scenes in Düsseldorf
    With the goal set, however, Ma Long experienced real challenges in the new Olympic cycle. “The plastic ball was changed after Rio. But it was less than a month to practice with the ball designated for WTTC. The ball felt unfamiliar to him, which made him down. He was not sure if he could retain the title and how he would continue in the next four years.” Zhang Lei discussed with Coach Liu Guoliang, Qin Zhijian and Ma Lin on how to fix Ma Long’s problem. They reached a conclusion: only Ma Long can fix his own problem.
    Before leaving for Germany, Ma Long got three injections to reduce the impact of injuries: one on hip joint, one on elbow and one on wrist. It was his mental form that made the coaches concerned. “After two rounds, it was getting better. He built up confidence after the match against Timo Boll. His form was coming back and he found some tricks to play the new ball.” Zhang Lei was still thrilled by the seven-game final, “He almost lost. Unpleasant though it may be, the champion is like a windfall. But at the same time, the champion gives him some confidence for Tokyo Olympic Games. This is Ma Long. As long as he wins major titles, problems are fixed.”

    Improvements needed for Tokyo
    Right after Düsseldorf, while Ma Long will play Japan Open and China Open, Zhang Lei is making a new plan. “I am thinking of a question: how shall Ma Long improve? After the final of WTTC, he told me that he suddenly felt a drop in energy and focus after leading 3-1. The drop resulted in losing the next two sets. He could have won by 4-1 if it were one year ago. Not only the physical strengths and focus were affected, his footwork was no longer continuous.”
    Ma Long is approaching 29. It is not easy to keep the current level; however, he has to keep improving to be competitive because of the challenge from young teammates. Zhang Lei said Ma Long is getting along well with his new coach Ma Lin and he is working with the coaches of the National Team to find solutions to accelerate Ma Long. ”The new ball has way less spins. The speed increases and so does the randomness of the game. Ma Long has to improve his physical strengths and footwork. Be faster before the energy drops.” Zhang Lei will go to Chengdu and meet Liu Guoliang, Qin Zhijian and Ma Lin during China Open next week. “We need to work out a full schedule, including physical training and recovery.” Next Zhang Lei and Team Beijing will prepare for the National Games.

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    #62
    In 2017 Japan Open (June 14-18), Ma Long won both doubles and singles titles. It is his third consecutive doubles title of Japan Open with Xu Xin and 20th doubles title of ITTF World Tour. And it is his first singles title of Japan Open and 24th singles title of ITTF World Tour. Similar to the last day of 2017 WTTC in Düsseldorf, he played against WR#3 in the semifinal and WR#2 in the final. BTW, he had not played with WR#1 since 2015 Kuwait Open in February, 2015.

    Check out what he was doing while waiting for the final to start.
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    #63
    In fans meeting of China Open, Ma Long had some good laughter with teammates and fans.




    He also answered his fan's question about next goals.
    Q: Hi Long, I am your "Dragonfruit". I have a question for you. Last year, you said you set two small goals: to graduate from university and to play well in 2017 WTTC in Düsseldorf. You have successfully achieved these goals this year. What specific small goals will you set next? Thanks.
    Ma Long: Next, it is most important to stay healthy. That's my first goal. My second goal is to keep my athlete career as long as possible.
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    Last edited by MaLongFamily Fans Club; 11-26-2017 at 03:02 AM.
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    #64
    Till June 2017, Ma Long has won 29 ITTF World Tour singles titles including 5 Grand Finals and 21 ITTF World Tour doubles titles including 1 Grand Finals. Below is a world map with Ma Long's 50 champions in ITTF World Tour, illustrated by 在沙子里看到大海 @Sina Weibo.
    We have never seen Ma Long throw or quit a match if he stood by the table, no matter how painfully he suffered from the injuries and no matter which tournament he played. He is so passionate and serious about table tennis. What stopped him from playing table tennis in China Open last week must be even more important for him than table tennis.
    We do not know if ITTF and China sports authority were satisfied with his apology and we do not know what sanctions await. From 2005 to 2017, 50 champions in ITTF World Tour, are we seeing the end of the story of our legend?

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    Last edited by MaLongFamily Fans Club; 11-26-2017 at 03:02 AM.
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    #65
    First, thanks for all the news about Ma Long you're bringing to us generously. As a Ma Long fan since 2010, that's typically the kind of things I'v always wanted to know (but never really could until you opened this thread). So please continue your great work it's really appreciated !

    But nununu no way it's the end of his career, I don't want to consider this for now. We will probably soon know what will be the official sanction. Let me hope it won't be too harsh.
    Honestly, if he was forced to retire now, I think I would stop watching TT for quite a long time...

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    #66
    If worst comes to worst and Ma Long is blocked from official participation, he and the others from the China Open action could do what Chinese masters have done for thousands of years, start their own school of practice. These guys have the skill and reputation to bring players to them, from around the world, and work out schedule, program, and payments/funding that could have a wonderful effect on table tennis. All their student/players could be in their ITTF/CTTA-affiliated leagues but learn from these masters as well. And these masters could have their own future business plans (hot-pot restaurants, whatever) to take care of them and their families as they get older. The billions of table tennis fans worldwide will never abandon these great players.
    Last edited by WorkerBee; 06-27-2017 at 10:55 PM.

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    #67
    During Marvellous 12 Trials for 2017 WTTC, when asked about the feelings towards wins and losses, Ma Long answered, "...Subtle. Michael Jordan once said, who would like to lose after enjoying the sweet taste of victory?" If you remember his packing show when leaving for the Trials, he brought the book Michael Jordan: The Life and obviously he read the book during the Trials. He also said, "It is not easy to be a table tennis player because one has to prove himself by winning champions. The second or third place is not quite recognized, no matter how well one plays."

    He also commented on Lin Gaoyuan who won the second ticket to 2017 WTTC in the Trials. "I think the most valuable traits of Lin Gaoyuan are being proactive and hard-working. He wants to play every match well. This reminds me of myself. Although there is still some gap between him and the top players, I am very touched by his desire, the determined look in his eyes, and his devotions in the daily training."
    Lin Gaoyuan has been Ma Long's teammate of Super League since 2013 and a good friend. He once told Lin Gaoyuan, "I would rather not play if I don't play seriously." After winning the Trials, Lin Gaoyuan expressed his gratitude to his coaches as well as Ma Long.

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    #68
    On Jan 25th, Team China held a party to celebrate Chinese New Year. Players and coaches were singing Jackie Chan's Sincere Heroes. "Hold onto every moving moment in life. Embrace beloved friends. Make sincere words and happy tears last in our hearts." They really mean it.
    Video by @小汤圆和小橘子 (Sina Weibo)

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    #69
    Ma Long is ranked #48 of The World’s 50 Most Marketable Athletes 2017 by SportsPro Media. He is the only table tennis player and the only Chinese on the list.
    Criteria: Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer based on value for money, age, home market, charisma, willingness to be marketed and crossover appeal.
    As we learn from coach Zhang Lei, Ma Long has turned down most of the endorsements and social events. He still stays focused on his career as a player. But we are also glad to see companies like Li-Ning, DHS and Audi keep to support him.

    http://www.sportspromedia.com/most-m...7/ma-long-2017

    Chinese, 28, Table Tennis
    China’s undisputed male athlete of the year
    Representatives: N/A
    Key Partners: N/A
    2016 Ranking: New entry
    2016 was Ma Long’s vindication. He had been overlooked for the London 2012 Summer Olympics and, having won virtually everything else there is to win in his discipline, he travelled to Rio with seemingly everything to lose.
    China sees table tennis gold medals as certainties rather than possibilities, and anything less would have left a question mark hanging over Ma’s legacy. So high were the stakes, in fact, that the 28-year-old’s coach even encouraged him to drink to cope with the pressure. But whatever the blend, Ma did what he’s done throughout his career: win with consummate ease. He dispatched countryman Zhang Jike in straight sets, claiming one of three Olympic titles to complete a career Grand Slam.
    “Ma Long has gone unbeaten this Olympics, he has achieved perfection in his Rio journey.” - Liu Guoliang, coach of China’s Olympic table tennis team.
    Despite his substantial social media following in China Ma’s absence from the major international platforms might render him a man of mystery outside the table tennis community, but his résumé reveals all. World number one since 2015, the Anshan-born maestro has won 23 International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) world tour singles titles. Ma is already a major star in his home country but while China’s table tennis kingpin is rich in championships, he remains thin on endorsement deals, and represents a safe bet for global brands looking to dip their toes into the Asian market. SC

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    #70
    Below is from an article written by Wang Yiwei, the chief journalist of Tecent Sports, on Jun 24th - one day after the incident in China Open. She wrote about Ma Long from a friend's point of view and expressed her concern about the incident.
    ————————
    After Rio Olympic Games, Ma Long becomes very popular. There are more and more distractions from the outside of the court. He was asked by many companies for endorsements and he turned down most invitations. His friends suggested to him, "Don't take it seriously. Just make some easy money." But he refused to do so especially for online games. "I don't want the teenagers to spend too much time and their parents' hard-earned money on the online games." He insists on what he thinks right and he reluctantly gives in to what he thinks wrong.

    He is approaching 29. The changes of table tennis devices are big challenges to his physical strengths and focus. During the closed training session for 2017 WTTC, 3 training classes per day were intense. One evening I saw him in the cafe and he ate nothing but some watermelon. "I am too tired to eat." He was exhausted and said so before leaving for physical therapy. Yu Ziyang, who is 10 years younger than him, sat at the same table and just finished a big dish of fried rice.

    Every time when Ma Long prepared for major tournaments, his close friends were "suffering". Cui Qinglei was at the forefront because he was Ma Long's roommate during almost all the closed training sessions and major tournaments. "He was not satisfied with his training. He shut me out. He was angry." What Cui Qinglei described was Ma Long at preparation mode before Rio Olympic Games. Ma Long was not good at expressing his true feelings but he was aware of all the care and concern from his friends. He said after Rio Olympic Games, "I know your care and concern. But why speak out?"
    During training before ATTC this year in Wuxi, CCTV cameraman Jin Zi asked me what happened to Ma Long. He was surprised because Ma Long complimented him, "Brother Jin, you look handsome with the new haircut." Team China went to Luxembourg before 2017 WTTC; Ma Long posted on his Sina Weibo a selfie with Cui Qinglei during sightseeing in Luxembourg. This was one of the few cases he posted about his close friends in public. He started to communicate with the outside in a "clumsy" way but people feel that he is more adorable and not taut any more.
    On a break day during the closed training session before 2017 WTTC, he invited his new coach Ma Lin and some close teammates for dinner and asked for suggestions on the problems revealed during the training. This was the first time he took the initiative to discuss with others about his problems during the preparation for a major tournament... After Rio Olympic Games, he opens up himself and shares his moods with others, vividly. It is most important that he realizes that communications help solve problems.

    The final of 2017 WTTC was epic. Ma Long led by 3:1 then Fan Zhendong caught up to 3:3. In the deciding game, Ma Long was 7-9 down but turned around the game by 12-10. He proved that he is still the most competitive contender for Tokyo Olympic Games. When the last point finished, I sighed, "From now on, Ma Long finally becomes great!" Xia Wa, the chief editor of Table Tennis World Magazine, corrected me, "Ma Long has always been great; this final just makes people realize how great he is!"

    Ma Long likes to collect action figures of Marvel and he likes Captain America the most. For a long time, I don't understand him. Compared to Iron Man and Hulk, Captain America cannot fly, has no superhuman powers and is beatable even with his shield. Ma Long resembles Captain America; they are human, not superhuman. They get frustrated and get hurt. There is no miracle. They have to fight against their opponents bare-handed until the last moment.
    In the past 24 hours, Ma Long's cell phone was not reachable. I don't know if he had a good sleep or not, if he was asked to meet someone, if he deleted his Sina Weibo post by himself or by someone else. When he wrote that post, he must know what he will face. It may be the end of his career, without exaggeration. However, if he had been able to communicate to solve the problem, would he have done so? He and his teammates were not told of the reason for Coach Liu Guoliang's sudden leave; they were only told not to write any Sina Weibo post, not to like or comment on related posts.... Why did he choose such an extreme approach? Because they were treated as cold machines outside the table tennis court that they can give their lives for.
    I did not sleep last night. The Ma Long I know and I like is a vivid person, not a cold machine. I wish all his courage and rebellion can be dealt with humanely.
    ————————
    More about Cui Qinglei: He and Ma Long are from the same hometown and in the same coach group. Between the semifinal and the final of 2017 WTTC, Cui Qinglei tried to buy some light meal for Ma Long. Unfortunately the stores were not open on that day; Ma Long had a can of beverage but no food before the final. Immediately after the match, Cui Qinglei contacted Ma Long's family to share the good news.
    More about Wang Yiwei: She interviewed Ma Long in the packing show before leaving for Marvellous 12 Trials.

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    #71
    This video is from Bloomsbury2012 @Sina Weibo, who recorded the last 5 min before the final of 2017 WTTC from the second floor.

    5 minutes before the final, Ma Long sat on the floor of the waiting area next to his red duffel bag. Not far away from him were Wang Hao who took pictures holding the St. Bride Vase and Wang Liqin who checked out the names on the Vase.
    3.5 minutes before the final, Ma Long started to tighten up his shoes when Coaches Liu Guoliang and Qin Zhijian called him and Fan Zhendong together. In the short meeting, Liu Guoliang emphasized that they should be fair upon any disagreement on a point and listen to the umpire and the winner should not over-celebrate no matter how excited he would be.
    2.5 minutes before the final, Ma Long continued to tighten up his shoes and stood up stretching himself a little bit.
    1 minute before the final, Ma Long finally tied his shoelaces. Fan Zhendong left for the arena, followed by the staff holding the St. Bride Vase and Wang Liqin who was going to present the Vase. Then Ma Long picked up his bag and walked towards his craziest match ever.

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    #72
    keep it coming its nice to hear the inside story thanks sir .

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    #73
    The meaning of Ma Long's first name is Dragon. How did he get his name and why did he start to play table tennis?


    Check out his speech in BTV True Voice.


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    #74
    Has ma long made any new statement on the boycotts right now? Whats the latest with our hero?

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    #75
    Players of Team China have returned to their provincial teams in preparation for the National Games in late August. Ma Long will represent Team Beijing to play in men's singles, men's doubles (with Xu Xin from Team Shanghai) and men's team. There is no report of Team Beijing's training yet; only a few teams like Shanghai and Hebei have started training.
    We hope no news is good news.
    Quote Originally Posted by TTHopeful
    Has ma long made any new statement on the boycotts right now? Whats the latest with our hero?
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    #76
    Ma Long started to play table tennis at the age of 5 because his parents thought playing an injury-free sport was good for his health. Let's take a look at his early career.
    In his hometown Anshan, Liaoning Province, Ma Long's first coaches include Shi Haimei, Bai Xiaodong and Jiang Wenkun who also coached Li Xiaoxia and Guo Yue, and Song Shouzhi who also coached Chang Chenchen. Although Ma Long left Anshan at the age of 11, he still keeps in touch with these coaches and sends greetings especially every Chinese New Year.
    In 1998, Ma Long represented his primary school and won boy's singles and team champions in "Baby Cup", one of the biggest national tournaments for youth since 1992.
    Photo 1 (1993) Ma Long (in green) and his coach Shi Haimei

    Photo 2 (around 1993)

    Photo 3 (1997) Ma Long (in blue) and his coach Song Shouzhi, on Great Wall

    Photo 4 Ma Long accepting award certificate in primary school

    Photo 5 (19980308) Ma Long practicing

    Photo 6 (1998) Ma Long won boy's singles and team champions of "Baby Cup" representing his primary school in Anshan.

    Photo 7 Ma Long's coach Jiang Wenkun put his photo with Ma Long on the wall of his table tennis club.

    Photo 8 (20160924) Ma Long visited his primary school in Anshan with Coach Shi Haimei.

    Photo 9 (20160924) Ma Long stood by his photo in his primary school.

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    #77
    In 1999, Ma Long left his hometown for Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning province, to join the provincial team. His coach was Wang Jun, who won the World Team Champion of 1977 Birmingham with Guo Yuehua and colleagues.
    In 2000, Ma Long won boy's singles title in the 9th East Asian Hopes Table Tennis Championships (U12) in Jeju, Korea. This tournament has been held once a year since 1992, in which many young players show their talents to the world. For instance, Ryu Seung-min was the winner in 1994 and Guo Yue the winner in 1999. This is the first time that Ma Long went abroad and the first time that he represented China.
    He also played the "Great Wall Motors Cup" International Challenge Series (U17) in Baoding, China in Oct 2000 and lost to Tian Chuan from Heilongjiang, China. This is the first time that his match was live broadcasted by CCTV.
    Before the match, he said, "I will try not to be hasty and control my opponent. It does not matter whether I win or lose."
    <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMaLongFamily%2Fvideos%2F692094767581768%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="420" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>

    Team Liaoning did not have high expectation for Ma Long's future because he was not physically strong enough. When Team Beijing's coach Guan Huaan visited Liaoning in 2001, he spotted Ma Long of his exceptional touch and invited him to join Team Beijing. "When I had dinner with Wang Jun and Ma Long, we adults were talking loudly while Ma Long was playing his gameboy quietly." Guan Huaan recalled. At the age of 13, Ma Long came to Beijing and became the student of Guan Huaan and Zhang Lei.

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    #78
    Zhang Lei, the head table tennis coach of Team Beijing, confirmed that Ma Long will play in the upcoming 13th China National Games. "Ma Long and Ding Ning are in good forms in the current training. Ma Long has some wrist injury, which will not prevent him from attending the National Games." He told Beijing Evening News.
    Team Beijing's mission for the 12th China National Games in 2013 was two gold medals in table tennis, completed by Ma Long's men's singles gold and Ma Long / Ding Ning's mixed doubles gold. The new mission remains the same, however, Zhang Lei thought it difficult to achieve. "This time Ma Long and Ding Ning do not attend mixed doubles. The situation in men's and women's singles are unpredictable. We have better chance in men's and women's doubles as cross-province paring is allowed. I hope we can win 1-2 gold medals."
    Team Beijing has specialized supporting teams from nutrition and diet, food safety, research, sports medicine, physical training and therapy, to cheer-leading, in preparation for the 13th National Games. For example, new lunch menu includes 12 courses of Chinese cuisines and 4 courses of western cuisines, in addition to desserts and sides, at least 6 kinds of juices and beverages, and at least 3 kinds of fresh fruits to choose from. The chefs also make authentic Peking Ducks and star athletes including Ma Long and Ding Ning have their own chefs.


    This photo of Ma Long, Zhang Lei and Ding Ning was taken after the final of mixed doubles in the 12th China National Games on Sep 7, 2013. Ma Long / Ding Ning won the first gold medal for Team Beijing. Zhang Lei admitted that he cried after the victory, for the first time in his table tennis career.

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    #79
    On July 24, Ma Long appeared at the premiere of an animated movie Tofu in Beijing. This is his first appearance at a social event since China Open incident last month.
    The movie producer Kingkey Group is also a sponsor of Marvellous 12 Trials for 2017 WTTC, which may explain why Ma Long was invited.
    Hopefully this is a good sign after the incident.

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    #80
    Yesterday Ma Long was playing doubles with Jay Chou in 1997 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis Championship. No kidding! He was invited to Jay Chou's new film "Ping-pong Brothers" to play a cameo role of Jay Chou's doubles partner and good friend and also the leading actor Jam Hsiao's father 20 years ago.
    Finishing the short filming of his part, Ma Long told Tecent Sports that hopefully the film can attract more people to play table tennis.
    As a big fan of Jay Chou, Ma Long chose Jay's songs for his introduction in ITTF tournaments, such as "Dragon Fist" in 2015 World Cup and 2015 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, and "Dragon Rider" in 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.
    BTW, can you see the ball during the filming?
    <iframe src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMaLongFamily%2Fvideos%2F703767583081153%2F&show_text=0&width=560" width="560" height="315" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowTransparency="true" allowFullScreen="true"></iframe>
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