This is very sad news for many table tennis lovers around the world.
Ma Long could retire sooner than expected due to his severe injury. It’s very sad since Ma Long is one of the best players in table tennis of all time.
Recently, Ma Long explains the reason for his absence from the international competition in the interview with China Daily Sports (just after the WTTC World Team Championship 2019). He has withdrawn from several competitions, including the Men World Cup 2018.
Note: If you suffer from a table tennis injury, you need to read this article: How To Prevent Top 5 Table Tennis Injuries
Ma Long rehabilitation
Today I want to share with you a true story about Ma Long that many players didn’t know.
If I ask you “What do you think of Ma Long?”
Then you will answer “the glory and the achievement”.
Something like this.
However, behind any glory and achievement, there are sacrifices. The ITTF finals ended. In the men’s singles final, Ma Long played well and defeated his teammate Fan Zhendong to win the championship.
You may not know that last year, Ma Long underwent surgery on his wrist and knee. Before the operation, he shaved his head, hoping to “start from the beginning”. After countless times of rehabilitation and additional training, he stood on the championship podium again, his eyes were red, “like a dream”.
He didn’t choose to retire at the age of 31. At that time, there was still a year before the Olympic Games. He still chose surgery. He loved it so much. He must be very difficult, but he never thought that he suffered so much. He is 32 years old and is still on the highest podium.
I always think that Ma Long’s greatness is not only the honor he has received, but the most important thing is his unwillingness to give up when facing physical and psychological challenges. Many players will choose conservative treatment in the face of non-serious injuries, because the recovery time in the later period of conservative treatment is short, and they can return to the game faster, but the Dragons’ choice of surgery also shows his desire for Tokyo.
I hope he can take that gold medal next year, come on the Dragons
Ma Long’s biggest challenge is his severe injury
Since August 2018, Ma Long has been absent from the international tournament for 7 months. This is a long period for a top table tennis player like Ma Long. A due to the bad ranking system, Ma Long’s ranking has dropped from #1 to #17 (out of the top 10 ranking).
Ma Long said during the interview (November 2019):
The biggest challenge is that I did not know when I could recover. I started to think negatively: will the injury be a crossroads of my career? This will affect many tournaments this year and then the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
So what is Ma Long main injury? It is his knee injury! Since 2007, Ma Long has suffered this problem. He has to inject the cortisone in order to play.
Due to his absence for a long time, Ma Long has dropped his ranking recently.
Will Ma Long play in Tokyo 2020?
Due to his severe injuries, Ma Long has withdrawn from many competitions. Here are some of them:
Ma Long withdrew from Marvelous 12
Ma Long didn’t play in the Marvellous 12 Tournament because of rehabilitation after a knee injury. It was an injury that deprived him of international competition for six months and took her out of the top of the world rankings after 34 consecutive months of number one.
Ma Long withdrew from T2 Diamond 2019
MaLong will not attend T2 Diamond Singapore.
According to Tennis World Table magazine, Ma Long, Fan Zhendong and Liu Shiwen asked not to attend T2 Diamond and Wang Chuqin was suspended for misconduct at the Austrian Open.
How about the Olympics Tokyo 2020?
So until now, we are not sure that Ma Long will play in Tokyo 2020 or not. However, since he is the leader of team China, Ma Long will try his best to participate in the Olympics as the “spiritual leader”.
Better myself and reassure people when I’m in the field. Be a spiritual leader. I am doing my best. I’m still in the game. I’m still fight before putting my racket down.
For Tokyo 2020, Liu Guoliang also has a plan to save the Chinese Men Team.
Ma Long could stop playing for years
Ma Long also explain his desire:
As long as my passion remains, it does not matter, even if I could not play for a year or two because of an injury. I will consider myself very strong if I come back eventually.
Ma Long will decide later his retirement
He tried to think about his injury more positive. However, it’s not the case. His injury is more severe than expected.
Ma Long said:
I tried to think more positively. The story will be rewritten. People did not expect me to win the World Championship title for the third time. It means more to me that people are rethinking table tennis and rethinking in me.
So the main motivation of Ma Long to fight is for his country, and for the expectation of the fan.
Ma Long’s injury is not new (since 2007 – 12 years ago)
Ma Long’s knee issue started in 2007. His left knee is calcified and worn out with his repetitive actions of the play.
Physical therapy, acupuncture, and correction have been tried numerous times. Sometimes he went for cortisone injection under ultrasound to reduce the pain.
Before the 2017 World Championships, Ma Long got a cortisone injection on the knee. After he won men’s singles champion, whenever he felt pain on the knee, he still used the above approaches for relief.
The situation was not better before the 2018 Swedish Open but Ma Long was eager to attend the tournament. He decided to take another cortisone injection before the match, in a local hospital in Sweden.
China Team was worried about Ma Long’s knee problem
In January 2019, the head coach Liu Guoliang spoke publicly about Ma Long’s knee injury for the first time.
A professional medical team and a fitness team helped him, but recovery was slow.
Then in mid-February, Ma Long started technical training.
Before that, he was only doing physical rehabilitation and training. Beijing coach Zhang Lei was very worried if Ma Long continues to play.
On February 25, Liu Guoliang said that the team had not yet abandoned Ma Long, but that he will have an alternative plan for the worst case.
Ma Long’s injury is painful
Ma Long withdraw multiple tournaments and what he has been through in the past 8 months, you can never imagine how deeply this man loves table tennis. A real champion and a real hero!
I can’t imagine how painful he was when he could only watch other players play for months.
Before Grand Finals in December, Ma Long was not able to move the left knee due to the severe pain. He had to walk with a limp.
Too painful to train, he had no choice but gave the knee nutrition shot and let it rest.
For more than 10 days, Ma Long was only able to do physical training on arms or some exercises on the right leg and ankle. Building up muscles took forever but losing muscles took in no time. His left leg soon became thinner.
“I don’t move it for a while but it is not better.”, Ma Long said
Ma Long always thinks table tennis players don’t have injuries from contact or collision, the “not so severe” repetitive strain injury just needs a few days rest, and cortisone injection can be used to kill pain if necessary.
Ma Long is now focusing on the gym
I also need more rehabilitation now. That’s why I stay longer in the gym.”, Ma Long said
Ma Long always needs preparations. The better he prepares, the more confidence he has. But since withdrawal from Swedish Open last Nov, Ma Long spent all his time on rehabilitation.
“This injury is a complication of several conditions. It was not very severe but very complicated. It took quite a while before the causes were figured out.” First anxious, then broken-down, finally reality accepted. This is what Ma Long said to describe his feelings.
But immediately he denied with a smile, “I did not break down.”
This all happened in the gym of National Training Center in Beijing, where Ma Long and Qin Zhijian asked team physicians questions and expressed opinions looking at the X-ray films, where he took rehabilitation and recovery training to build up muscles on the leg by all means. Sometimes team physicians and physical coaches had to encourage Ma Long.
Struggled and suffered, Ma Long kept staying in the gym, no matter in Beijing or in Shenzhen.
Why Ma Long’s injury is so serious?
Ma Long, in order to play, has decided to take another cortisone injection before the match.
But this time in the Swedish Open, his pain was not relieved. Instead, it triggered the outbreak and worsening of his knee injury which lasted for more than 3 months.
It is simple to summarize what happened to Ma Long’s left knee as “repetitive strain injury”.
However, it is too difficult to describe what takes to get full recovery. After Ma Long won his third World singles Champion, he is still in the process of recovery.
Ma Long met a physiotherapist of the Shandong Luneng soccer team in the gym.
However, Ma Long needs to withdraw from the Austrian Open and Swedish Open.
Ma Long has multiple injuries
When Ma Long announced withdrawal from Marvelous 12 trial in Shenzhen due to injuries, many thought that was just an excuse. Zhang Lei denied and said Ma Long had knee injury since last year and struggled a lot to achieve his goal.
“His knee injury is the most severe among all, which took 8 months to recover. When he was in training camp in Austria before World Championships, I heard that his wrist injury broke out.”
Last year during China Super League, Ma Long was seen to talk about his neck issue with Liu Guoliang, Qin Zhijian and Zhang Lei. “His waist also has an issue.
Ma Long has several injuries:
- knee injury since 2007(main problem)
- Waist and wrist injury since 2014 (explained previously)
- Neck issue recently due to over-competition
Head coach Liu Guoliang explained:
All injuries broke out in the recent half-year. We requested a rehabilitation team in coordination with the National Team.”
Will Ma Long continue playing table tennis
Will Ma Long continue playing table tennis after retirement? or Will he just stop completely?
Like Zhang Jike, he is now focusing on his own business. We have lost completely the image of Zhang Jike on the international and national competition. He almost retires, Zhang Jike.
Will Ma Long follow his best friend, Zhang Jike?
In the interview in November 2019, Ma Long said:
Table tennis is an interactive sport. Since becoming a professional player and joining the China team, my passion for table tennis has become stronger and stronger. It is indispensable in my life.
Table tennis is the first sport in China. For competitive sports, the first step is getting good results.
Ma Long has confirmed that he will continue to play even after retirement.
Or maybe, he will switch to the coaching career like Wang Liqin and Wang Hao.
How Ma Long regards his injury?
“Over 30, injured, the killing shots no longer devastating due to the bigger ball”
“Ma Long was defeated by injury.”
“He is too old.”
“Ma Long’s time is over.”
These were the topics on the self-media site and forum.
However, Ma Long is positive and confirmed:
“I have challenged the rest of the world and I won all. Now my opponent is an injury, I cannot easily give up.” Ma Long told himself.
Ma Long won’t put his racket down
Ma Long has confirmed to the interviewer:
As long as my passion remains, it does not matter if I can not play for a year or two because of an injury. I will consider myself very strong if I come back eventually.
We hope that Ma Long can overcome his injury, and continue to play his wonderful table tennis forever.
Special thanks to Ma Long Family Fan Clubs. Please support Ma Long and the Fan Clubs.