A 20-year-old table tennis player from Liaoning province, Ma Long (马龙), knocked off Olympic medallist and three-time world champion Wang Liqin (王励勤) to win the China table tennis open in Suzhou Sunday.
According to his profile here (in Chinese), Ma started playing at the age of five. Ma was identified as a serious talent at the age of 13, at which time he moved to Beijing to train. He has been on the national team since 2003.
In pre-Olympic warmup matches last summer, Ma Long beat two of China’s three 2008 Olympians, with victories over all but Wang Hao, the youngest player on the 2008 team. Two years ago, he beat eventual Olympic gold medallist Ma Lin on the way to his first professional title.
In any other country, Ma Long would have had a spot on last year’s Olympic team, but China didn’t need him. China swept the table tennis events at the Olympics, with Ma Lin (马琳) winning gold, Wang Hao (王皓) winning silver and Wang Liqin taking bronze.
As an aside, while researching this article, I found out that Ma Long–literally horse dragon–is the Chinese transliteration for retired NBA great #Karl Malone!http://sports.sina.com.cn/star/karl_malone/#.
2009 Table Tennis Open image: Sports.cn
Table Tennis World magazine image: Baidu
China announces its table tennis team
Tags: Karl Malone, Ma Lin, Ma Long, table tennis, Wang Hao, Wang Liqin