Liu Guozheng, two-time winner of the World Team Table Tennis
Championships, is set to follow in the footsteps of world and
Olympic champion Kong Linghui, as he plans to start his coaching
career with the national team in the near future.
Liu, 27, assisted Wu Jingping, coach of highly fancied stars Ma
Lin and Wang Hao, during the team's closed-door training session in
Shenzhen, where it is now gearing up for February's World Team
Table Tennis Championships in Guangzhou.
The Wuhan-born paddler was in his prime between 1998 and 2004,
when he won two team world titles as well as some major Open and
The highlight of his career was the men's team's dramatic
semifinal win over South Korea in the 2001 World Championships,
where Liu Guozheng saved an astonishing seven match points in the
fifth and final rubber.
But he began to fade after 2004 due to injury and pressure from
emerging teenagers. He finally chose to get into coaching after
last year's national championships.
"I am getting old and there are so many good players on the
team," Liu said. "I think I have better potential in a job as a
coach. Though it's impossible to play in the Olympic Games, the coaching role will give me
another chance to make a contribution for the team."
Liu is still in the process of learning how to switch from a
player to a coach and will have to pass some examinations after the
Beijing Games before being officially appointed the team's
"As a player, I am not tired after running back and forth during
the training. But as a coach, I have to stand for 1-2 hours to see
them train. My legs still need time to get used to it," Liu
Liu's World Championships-winning partner Kong has a good
example after he was named assistant coach of the women's team.
Under Kong's coaching, teen player Guo Yue won last year's World
Championships women's singles title.
(China Daily January 30, 2008)