Last August 2, the top seed and reigning world champion Zhang Jike broke the Olympic Curse and surpassed all records in the history of table tennis as he was hailed as the Olympic champion and completed the much coveted Grand Slam at the young age of 24.
Since Zhang Jike became popular last year after winning the Rotterdam World Championships, he has been receiving a lot of attention from the media, in and out of China. However, because of his popularity, Zhang Jike was also conducive to criticisms. Within the Chinese Team, he was once considered as the "Prodigal Son" after having been ousted from the National Team twice. In addition, the head coach Liu Guoliang was also expressive on his criticisms on the player.
However, at home, Zhang Jike is a loving child. Born and raised in Qingdao China by Zhang Chuanming and Xu Xiying, Zhang Jike started to play table tennis at the early age of 4 or 5.
Zhang Chuanming and Xu Xiying are Zhang Jike's very supportive parents. Zhang Chuanming was in charge of all things that is related to table tennis. He acted as the early coach of the young Jike and he was no father material during training. Zhang Chuanming was heartless. Meanwhile, Zhang Jike's mother, Xu Xiying was the exact opposite. She is that typical caring and nurturing mother. In addition, with the high quality genes of Xu Xiying, no wonder where Zhang Jike got his appealing looks.
Since Zhang Jike started playing, Xu Xiying ensured the full nutrition of her son. Their dining table always had fish, shrimps and ribs. Xu Xiying actually hasn't touched all the pots and pans in their home but overtime, she turned out to be a good cook.
Zhang Jike's favorite food is his mother's tomato egg noodle. That is always the first thing Zhang Jike wanted to eat every time he returns home. On the other hand, Zhang Jike isn't fond of eating shrimp but he has no problems with fish and crabs. "When Zhang Jike was still young, he doesn't like to eat shrimp at all. But his father told him he should eat a lot of shrimps because it's an arc-shape which can help him pull a loop ball well." Xu Xiying recalled.
Zhang Jike is actually close to his mom. Since Jike was still small, her mother used to sleep beside him. However due to his career in table tennis, Zhang Jike had to leave their home rather early. This did not prevented Zhang Jike from showing his care to his mom. "Evey year, Zhang Jike will always send me birthday greetings. He is always prompt. Moreover, Jike doesn't forget to give me presents on special occasions as well." Xu Xiying divulged.
Speaking of presents, Zhang Jike has already made his parents extremely happy. Two years ago, Zhang Jike has bought a new house for his parents. For almost ten years, his parents have been living on the same house, and during winter, the house gets so cold as they do not have any heating system. Because of this, Zhang Jike felt bad for his parents.
At last, his dream came true. Zhang Jike did not just gave a house but was also very interested in the decoration of their new abode. Despite training, Zhang Jike used to call home just to check on them and the house. Zhang Jike became more caring for his parents.
If Zhang Jike is a Tibetan Mastiff in table tennis, then he is definitely a Labrador Retriever for his parents.
We all know that Zhang Chuanming was really strict in training his son. There are even times, that the young Jike was hit as punishments. During those times, Xu Xiying, as a mother herself, often found herself crying. "For many years of training, Zhang Jike was really in much pain. It was really not easy for my son." Xu Xiying said.
Zhang Chuanming can clearly recall that when Zhang Jike was 14 years old, he asked his son: "Your father hits you. do you hate your father? I want to apologize to you." Zhang Jike's reply moved his father. "Pa, I do not hate you. If not for your initial training, I won't be able to train well."
Ten years later, Zhang Jike has reaped what he and his parents have sowed. He swept the world championship, world cup and the Olympics in just one season. Zhang Jike's success is the pride of Zhang Chuanming and Xu Xiying!
Zhang Jike's Family during the Olympics
Photo source: sports.sohu.com