Ma Long could retire sooner than expected

Ma Long could retire sooner than expected

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 on 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 He has withdrawn from several competitions, including the Men World Cup 2018.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’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

Ma Long thinks that the injury could be a crossroads of his career
Ma Long thinks that the injury could be a crossroads of his career

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.

Ma Long serious knee problem
Ma Long serious knee problem

Due to his absence for a long time, Ma Long has dropped his ranking recently.

Ma Long is out of top 10 World Ranking
Ma Long is out of top 10 World Ranking

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Due to his severe injuries, Ma Long has withdrawn from many competitions.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”.

 

 

He said:

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

Top 5 Injuries in Table Tennis and How to Prevent
Top 5 Injuries in Table Tennis and How to Prevent

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 is always motivated, and wish to play table tennis as long as possible
Ma Long is always motivated, and wish to play table tennis as long as possible

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.

Ma Long serious knee problem
Ma Long got a cortisone injection on the knee since 2007

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. 

Ma Long has a serious injury on his left knee
Ma Long has a serious injury on his left knee

A professional medical team and a fitness team helped him, but recovery was slow

Then in mid-February, Ma Long started technical training.

Ma Long is under the physical rehabilitation during January 2019
Ma Long is under physical rehabilitation during January 2019

Before that, he was only doing physical rehabilitation and training. Beijing coach Zhang Lei was very worried if Ma Long continues to play. 

Ma Long was only doing physical rehabilitation
Ma Long was only doing physical rehabilitation

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.

Chinese coaching staff was very worried for Ma Long's knee problem
The Chinese coaching staff was very worried about Ma Long’s knee problem

 

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.

Ma Long the best model in table tennis
Ma Long the best model in table tennis

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.

Ma Long focused on the gym to reduce the injury problem
Ma Long focused on the gym to reduce the injury problem

“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.

Ma Long is now only focusing on physical training
Ma Long is now only focusing on physical training

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.

Ma Long's left knee as repetitive strain injury
Ma Long’s left knee as repetitive strain injury

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 took a cortisone injection in Sweden before withdrawing from the 2018 Swedish Open
Ma Long took a cortisone injection in Sweden before withdrawing from the 2018 Swedish Open

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.

Ma Long spent all his time on rehabilitation
Ma Long spent all his time on rehabilitation

“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:

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.”

Accupunture treatment to reduce pain of Ma Long
Acupuncture treatment to reduce the pain of Ma Long

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.

Zhang Jike retirement: ending his career
Zhang Jike retirement: ending his career. Will Ma Long follow his best friend?

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 could become the coach in table tennis when he retires
Ma Long could become the coach in table tennis when he retires

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.

Wang Hao switches to the coaching career very soon
Wang Hao switches to the coaching career very soon

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 posted a photo of him and Baby Dragon
Ma Long posted a photo of him and Baby Dragon

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.

I always love the game. I’m still lucky before putting my racket down.

We hope that Ma Long can overcome his injury, and continue to play his wonderful table tennis forever.

References

Special thanks to Ma Long Family Fan Clubs. Please support Ma Long and the Fan Clubs.

 

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  1. It was great to see Ma Long back in the game at the Worlds, admittedly his performance was short of what we had become accustomed. However given the physical and mental strength to keep coming back from such devastating injuries we should all applaud him.
    The quote ‘I’m still lucky before putting my racket down’ is heartfelt. Whichever decision is made we are all indebted to have such a global ambassador for the sport.

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