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Will Xu Xin play in this Tokyo Olympics?

Will Xu Xin play in this Tokyo Olympics? This is the main question that many players asked.


Xu Xin Liu Shiwen failed at Chinese Trial 2021

In this Olympic simulation competition, Xu Xin/Liu Shiwen failed to enter the semi-finals of mixed doubles. This made people somewhat worried. Liu Guoliang, chairman of the Chinese Table Tennis Association, said: Losing now is not necessarily a bad thing!

Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen the main force of China for the Gold Medal in the Olympics
Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen the main force of China for the Gold Medal in the Olympics

Coach Liu said it’s good to see Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen lose. So they can see what mistake they made now and can improve for the Olympics mix double.

He said “They already got major mixed doubles title, and have an important role at Tokyo Olympics. There will be no substitutes for the Chinese mixed doubles.

So Xu Xin will play in this Tokyo Olympics. Wooh! (I’m assured).

This is the full analysis of coach Liu about the performance of Xu Xin/ Liu Shiwen.

Will Xu Xin play in Tokyo Olympics ? [Eng Sub]

Watch this video.

 


Coach Liu explication

This is such a rare occasion to get so much commentary from Liu Guoliang. (Special thanks to David Jia for the translation)

I think that, for me, for the team, this is the best time for top players (1) to lose. If this tournament didn’t happen any problems or issues, and then they will happen in Tokyo.



That would be the worst-case scenario. Now instead, this loss is a positive takeaway--we have the opportunity to ask why they lost? These two have been in super good form during recent training. They were so good that even several male doubles pairs couldn’t beat them! And it’s actually because they’ve been so excellent that they thought mix doubles would be no problem. During normal internal, mixed doubles training matches, they give the other team a 2-3 point handicap! But this then means that it’s their mentality that’s changed and is the problem. This tournament demonstrated that they both didn’t prepare (2) enough and underestimated the opponent(s). They thought, “we’re playing mixed doubles, how can we lose?!” However, at the same time, their opponents viewed mixed doubles as an opportunity to fight as their life depended on it (3), whereas they played more conservatively and cautiously.

Xu Xin is also lost in the men single event (Simulation for the Tokyo Olympics 2021)
Xu Xin is also lost in the men single event (Simulation for the Tokyo Olympics 2021)

All of this caused them to quickly go down 0-2 in games during that match. All of this was a perfect simulation of how foreigners play against us (4). So through this type of tournament, we’ll be able to push Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen to fine-tune (5) various aspects of their game. Truthfully, in singles, neither of them is not playing at their peak. Or, younger players have simply surpassed them. However, in mixed doubles, the coaches still have tons of confidence in them. Both in internal competitions and on the international stage, overall on average, they are the most stable pair.

Lin Shidong has won Xu Xin
Lin Shidong has won Xu Xin

Furthermore, they already got through the selection process during the 2019 trials and won the privilege of going to the Olympics! Except that Tokyo 2020 just never happened. So, during match point, people were saying to swap them out, since only one mixed double pair can compete. But no, we can’t simply swap them out like that. This isn’t what we already decided. Their overall competency still demands that they go, and the coaching team still trusts them! Anyhow, I think this loss is great. It’s a wake-up call! After the match, I had a long chat with the two of them and their mixed doubles coaching staff, Ma Lin and Chen Qi (he also cheekily mentions that all four of them are Olympic gold medalists) and we talked all night. First of all, I did not blame them. But (with a smile), there were serious problems with your expectations of yourselves (6), your pre-match preparation (2), etc.

Liu Shiwen is lost. So the final is between Chen Meng and Shasha
Liu Shiwen is lost. So the final is between Chen Meng and Shasha

Losing is a bad thing, not a good thing. But if learn the right lessons, we can transform this loss into a positive outcome. When Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen lost, Xu Xin was quite upset. The loss heavily impacted him. But I think this is also good. Because there’s still time! An arrogant army is bound to lose (7), and these two have truly won TOO much! Usually, when you just find a mixed doubles pair to play against these two, it doesn’t leave much of an impact. This tournament, however, will have reminded them more alert and vigilant. Competition comes with cruelty. It comes with upheavals and turbulence. And the larger the competition, the greater the risk. I remember back in 2018, I realized that mix doubles are the hardest event because no one places enough importance on it.

The coach will improve the performance of Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen
The coach will improve the performance of Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen

Traditionally, there’s much more emphasis on singles and teams in table tennis to seek out the greatest individual glory and glory for the country, respectively. So, people tend to look down on mixed doubles. But now, it’s in the Olympics! It MUST also have an equal value. You then have to ask why did Tokyo decide to add this event in the first place. It must be because Japan has calculated that this event is advantageous for them. And, with only one pair per country, you lose the “double insurance” that singles have, which certainly increases the pressure. So, the most important thing for Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen is their capacity to withstand mental pressure.

Liu Shiwen performance is not good
Liu Shiwen performance is not good

They need to be extremely strong in that respect. There’s a total of 5 gold medals.

And mixed doubles is the first event. So if they win it, then the rest of the events will be easier for everyone else involved. However, if they lose, then everything else becomes shakier because of the increased pressure on everyone else. Thus, from a holistic, strategic perspective, mixed doubles are very important!

Footnotes:

  • 1 – 主力, which translates to “main force”, a common term for the players the team most trusts to send out for tourneys, e.g. ML, FZD, XX, LSW, CM
  • 2 – Not sure if he means mentally or physically
  • 3 – 拼, a common word in the commentary which translates “fight so hard as to risk one’s own life”
  • 4 – My Commentary: Especially in the Olympics, everyone fights so much harder
  • 5 – 细, which directly translates to “fine, thin, or delicate”. But in the context of table tennis, it describes fine-tuning
  • 6 – 自我要求, which translates to “personal expectations of yourself”, an indication of how hard they’re pushing themselves
  • 7 – 骄兵必败, an idiom, also translated as “pride goes before a fall”


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Table tennis coach in France since 2012, founder of pingsunday.com (the best online coaching program for table tennis players). Born in Vietnam in 1983, Ph.D. in Université Pierre Marie Curie. Read more about him.

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