Ma Lin started his professional career in table tennis in 1994 when he first entered the Chinese National Team. Since then, Ma Lin was clearly focused on getting to the top and continue giving glory to his home country.
Of course, the road to stardom wasn't smooth and relaxing for Ma Lin. Just like any road, there can be bumps and detours. For Ma Lin, he was in constant competition be it in matches, his teammates, or to himself, and pressure is just inevitable. "It has been 15 years. Throughout that period, there was continuous pressure." Ma Lin started.
At the same time, while Ma Lin was focused on winning in every match, other factors also started to have an impact on his performances. Throughout those years, Ma Lin aged and younger players entered into the team, paving their own roads in table tennis.
Recently, Ma Lin started to lose his opportunities to much younger players like Ma Long and Zhang Jike. Clear evidences were seen in the Dortmund Championships and the upcoming London Olympics. Ma Lin did not play in the most critical stages in Dortmund and missed his chance for London over Ma Long.
With these recent happenings, Ma Lin's life started to change. "Unlike now, I eat well and sleep well. I can also feel that there is no more pressure on me."
Ma Lin already knew that his hopes to be in the finals in Dortmund were lessen as soon as the lineup for the semifinals was announced. At that time, coach Wu Jingping was in Ma Lin's room and made his disciple prepare for the finals. However, Ma Lin was already feeling that he will be missing the finals.
That night, Ma Lin was not able to sleep. "I am used to the feeling of pressure and competition for several years now and suddenly, I feel nothing anymore. I feel lost and I can't find my direction. There are no goals and my mind is just blank." Ma Lin added.
"Everything is starting to be natural now. Actually, I feel that this is good because in past years, I have been training really hard. Both my mind and body are already tired. Before, since I have always had a target, my body can't feel exhaustion. However once you lay down, that's the only time you feel tired." Ma Lin conluded.
Indeed, every journey will eventually reach it's destination. Perhaps, a lot of us would like to think that this is not yet the end for Ma Lin. However, with the recent changes in his life, not to mention his admission of being tired, can we already foresee a farewell from Ma Lin soon?
Check the video for one of the saddest moment in the recent life of Ma Lin: his defeat against Ma Long during 2011 WTTC Quarterfinals. Could this be Ma Lin's last match in the world championships?
Ma Lin vs Ma Long 2011 WTTC
Video source: TTCountenance
Photo source: etta.co.uk