According to head coach Liu Guoliang, Ma Long was the best performing athlete during the Men Team competition in the 2012 London Olympics. Indeed, Ma Long showed his strength in the Singles matches he played. He was quick and deadly thus having the label as "the killer" of the Chinese Team.
"I think I have to disagree with that. Because in a Team competition, it's the whole team who achieves victory and have to rely on all the players. Everyone plays a different position. Speaking for the Chinese Team, we are the strongest. Assuming one's position is the most important." Ma Long humbly commented.
Compared to the rather stubborn image of Zhang Jike, Ma Long seem to be the more obedient son of Liu Guoliang. However, Ma Long would like to correct such image. "I sometimes look gentle in the surface but there are also those times that I will also have my own ideas. I belong to both sides. I can also be a hard nut to crack sometimes." Ma Long admitted.
Ma Long and the newly hailed Olympic champion Zhang Jike are on the same age. This only means that competition between the two could really be stiff and might affect their brotherhood as team players. However, both players seemed mature enough to understand their ever changing roles in table tennis. Sometimes they are opponents, sometimes they are teammates, and most of the time they are roommates.
In line with this, Ma Long admitted that his relationship with Zhang Jike is okay. In fact he even praised his friend. "Very good (referring to their relationship)! We usually share one room whenever we go out for competitions. First of all, Zhang Jike is a very hardworking player. His talent including his domineering attitude are worth learning. He is selfless in the field." Ma Long said.
According to Ma Long, he and Zhang Jike were assigned in one room even during the Closed Training before the Olympic Games. The main reason behind this was to help both players communicate more about the upcoming competition. While Zhang Jike and Ma Long shared in one room, the veteran Wang Hao was with Xu Xin.
The Olympic first-timers, Zhang Jike and Ma Long have successfully fulfilled their tasks in London. With these, as the leading names in the Chinese Men Team, Ma Long and Zhang Jike have just awarded with the responsibility of the Team's pride for the succeeding years.
Knowing that there is no bad blood between Ma Long and Zhang Jike just makes the coaches and the fans feel secured that the Chinese Team is in good hands.
Created with flickr slideshow.
Ma Long and Zhang Jike in the 2012 Olympics
Photo source: Feng Li / Getty Images Europe