Ma Long: The definition of greatness in table tennis

China’s domination of the sport has been unprecedented but Ma Long’s records make him the Greatest of All Time in Table Tennis.

Ma Long file photo, Image credit: Twitter
By Karthik Raman | Mar 16, 2021 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

When one person wins everything in sport, he is by default one of the greatest in the business. In Tennis, we have seen Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic win everything in the sport. However, in Table Tennis, the yardstick and the benchmark for dominance has been pushed to a level that many players might not even be able to get there. Fathom the sheer magnitude of the numbers. 28 ITTF World Tour titles, Gold Medals in the Asian and Olympic Games in all disciplines, only the fifth player to achieve the Grand Slam which is winning the Olympics, World Championships, and World Cup, 34 consecutive months as the World No.1 and a total of 64 months at the pinnacle of the sport.

All these numbers are a tribute to Ma Long, considered one of the greatest Table Tennis players in history. China has a rich pedigree of producing Table Tennis greats on a regular basis. But, Ma Long takes the benchmark to a whole new level totally. In singles and team events that he has participated in the Asian Games, he has won five gold medals with his worst showing being Bronze in the 2006 Doha Games. In the Table Tennis World Cup from 2008 to 2019 Tokyo, his tally is nine gold, two silver and three bronze. In the Olympics, he has won Team Gold in 2012 and 2016 while also doing the clean sweep with singles gold in Rio.

Such numbers are a sheer force of his consistency. His two nicknames, The Dictator and The Dragon are a testament to his skill. Like a dragon, he can intimidate with his skill while as a dictator, he is ruthless and does not give any quarter to the opponent. If his opponent is in trouble, he will ensure that there is no way out for him.

Coming back despite injuries

Ma Long might be injured, but he is definitely not out. When he came back in 2019 for the World Championship in Qatar, Ma Long showed that he had rarely lost his touch. Even now, he is still the reigning world and Olympic champion. When he defeated an upcoming star from China, he got another nickname in addition to ‘The Dictator’ and ‘The Dragon’. It was the ‘Comeback King’. Speaking after the win, Ma Long said the 2019 comeback was special for many reasons.

“In the context of my longstanding injury, to come back the way I have done, this is the happiest ITTF World Tour title victory of my career. Winning here provides the perfect boost ahead of next month’s World Championships and, of course, aids my long-term preparations,” Ma Long said. 

The scary part is that at the age of 32, Ma Long is only becoming better with age. Tokyo 2021 might not stop the Chinese juggernaut in world events and Ma Long is the symbol of that dominance.

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