Ma Long was perceived to be the strongest contender in the recently concluded 2012 Asian Olympic Qualifier Men Singles. However, in his first attempt to qualification, Ma Long stumbled against Koki Niwa.
"In terms of strength, Ma Long is definitely number one. But in games like this, Ma Long has showed two important problems. First is psychological. After all in the Olympic qualifier, other players were also committed to fight. Koki Niwa played well in the match. Ma Long's loss was not entirely because of his opponent but also his own problems. So the first problem is really his mindset. The second one is that he doesn't have much to offer against left handed players." Liu Guoliang said.
In addition, Liu Guoliang also confirmed that no one suspects Ma Long's abilities and talent in table tennis. However, he hasn't completely crossed big events successfully. This is the reason why Ma Long will only participate in the team events. Liu Guoliang thinks that Ma Long will clearly progress after the Rotterdam World Championships. However, he still needs to find a solution on his psychological resilience and his issues on left handed players.
"In the next three months, we should help Ma Long solve these two problems in order for him to be truly mature. I believe that Ma Long would become even more powerful after the exercises for the Olympics. Conversely, if not handed properly, Ma Long's skills and winning streaks will just all be irrelevant." Liu Guoliang added.
Liu Guoliang considers Ma Long's loss to Koki Niwa to be an alarm for the whole team. "This match is not only for Ma Long. It was a very large harvest for the whole team."
As for the next three months, Liu Guoliang and the rest of the Chinese Team will be devoting all their time and efforts for the London Olympics. He said that their preparation will be like the one they had for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"In the Olympic Games, we cannot afford to consider technology as the deciding role. We need to decide as to the psychological aspects. At this moment, everyone's technology is almost on the same level. So who can surpass pressure very well will also be the one who will have better response in the arena." Liu Guoliang said.
"As for Ma Long, he also needs to improve and strengthen himself. His technical skills are doing quite well. However, if he has no psychological security, then there will also be no guarantee in the Olympics." Liu Guoliang added.
Liu Guoliang concluded that the Chinese players are indeed the world's strongest in terms of technology and capabilities. But in the Olympic Games, opponents will also be strong and will impose great pressure. So he who conquers himself is the very person to show his best play in the competition.
Photo source: world-tt.com