Wang Nan: Carrying China’s dominant table tennis legacy forward

Wang Nan was dominant in Table Tennis after the retirement of Deng Yaping, considered one of the greatest players of all time.

Wang Nan file photo, Image credit: Twitter
By Siddharth vishwanathan | Mar 16, 2021 | 2 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

In any sport when a legend retires, there is a massive void to be filled. It probably takes years or generations to match up to the accomplishments of the player who originally set the benchmark in that sport. However, when one looks at China and the assembly line of brilliant athletes that they produce in Table Tennis, it is just like they are next in line to carry the mantle forward. When one legend retires, another legend steps up and carries the torch ahead until the next one arrives. This is the story of Wang Nan and how she carried the dominance of China ahead in Table Tennis.

When Deng Yaping retired, Wang Nan stepped up and became the numero uno player from China in the late 90s and into the early decade of the new millennium. Her accomplishments are staggering to say the least. From 1999 to 2000, she was simply unbeatable. In 1999, Wang Nan won the gold medal at the World Table Tennis Championships and the ITTF tour finals in both singles and doubles. She became world number one in the same year. In the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, she won two gold medals in singles and doubles.

Dip in form but still powerful

Despite other players coming to the fore, Wang Nan was the undisputed world number one for three years. However, when she started losing on a consistent basis in the knockouts, many people criticised her attitude. Yet, she gave great performances. In the 2003 World Championships, she won the gold in the singles, doubles and mixed doubles to complete the sweep. 

In the Olympics, singles success eluded her but in the team and doubles events, she continued to dominate. In the 2004 Athens Olympics, Wang Nan won gold in the doubles while in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she won the Team Gold to cement her reputation as one of the best in the business.

She is also one of the few elite players who have won the Grand Slam. She has won five ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals while she has won five singles title in the World Cup. In the World Championships, she has won three singles, five doubles, one mixed doubles and also six team gold to complete the sweep. Apart from Olympic success, her 2007 success in the Tournament of Champions ensured Wang Nan is on the same pedestal as Deng Yaping.

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