What is the goal after winning the world championship of table tennis? Is to win the national championship.
This is not a joke, but reality,
In the table tennis grand slam, the hardest thing to get is the national championship.
In the national team, after the age of 26, I have not won the world championship, so in this life, if you want to be selected for the Olympic and World Championships singles lineup, it is no different from the fantasy.
But in the ping-pong kingdom where the masters are like clouds, there is such an alternative inspirational character——
He has never been on the Olympic Games. His chopping method is now on the verge of extinction and is considered to be behind the times.
But in the long history of table tennis, this man has won the Men's Singles Championship twice, one of which was won at the age of 39.
He is Hou Premier League.
When we were inspired by the 42-year-old Wei Guan Qingguang’s victory in the Japan National Championships, we continued to marvel at the 53-year-old Miura Zhiliang who was still running on the football field,
Hou's persistence in the Premier League is also a legend.
Hou Yingchao’s daughter is in first grade.
Last year, he won the men's singles championship in the National Championships, giving his daughter the opportunity to stand on the podium with his father.
My daughter saw the flowers and applause that belonged to her father, and she also saw the shining gold medal. But she is still young and can't fully understand the meaning of this gold medal.
This year, the 40-year-old Hou Yingchao stopped in the round of 16 in the men's singles at the National Championships, but the men's doubles, together with his partner, won the bronze medal by cutting the ball.
When he got home, his daughter asked him in surprise, "Dad, how come the color of the medal has changed this year!"
He joked: "Daughter, your father made history last year!"
This event a year ago witnessed Hou Ying scored twice after 19 years. He broke the record of the oldest men's singles champion in the National Championships and created a hot topic in the circle.
As early as more than ten years ago, there was a saying in the market: In the table tennis world, it is harder to win a national championship than a world championship.
But for Hou Yingchao, his victory was even more difficult.
In China, choosing to cut the ball means losing a lot-losing the initiative to attack, losing the advantage of choosing a trendy play, and then losing a lot of opportunities to compete and become a world champion.
But at that moment, when all the difficulties were overcome and Hou Yingchao opened up a new world, cutting the ball-this dying style of play, once again proved its historical significance.
He never thought about a question-if time turns back, will he choose this technique again.
When Hou was 5 years old in the Premier League, he stood on the edge of the ping-pong table and started to learn how to cut the ball with his enlightenment coach.
He bent his knees and let the racket draw a beautiful arc in the air.
When he was young, he still didn't understand the pros and cons of this style of play, and he obeyed the orders of his teacher, and he couldn't make his own decision on the style of play.
He remembered that the field of table tennis in the 1980s was still a pattern of various play styles.
Like Deng Yaping’s horizontal glue play and Liu Guoliang’s straight straight glue play, they are now almost extinct, but they were not uncommon on the court at that time.
Hou Yingchao admitted that in his youth he took advantage of the chipping method, “because of the lack of strength for children to play games, opponents can’t pull the ball.”
Until he grows up, he has a deeper and deeper understanding of the chopping method, and he has become more and more aware of the hardships of this play.
The skills that need to be practiced in the chopping play are the most compared to other play.
It is not only necessary to learn the skills of cutting the ball, but also not to waste the training of offensive skills. This is the key to switching from defense to offense.
In addition, the pace of chopping is difficult to practice and requires a lot of hard work.
He compared the technical genre to the martial arts mastery: "Offensive players only need to master one or two types of weapons, and they can be particularly skilled. But the choppers must master 18 martial arts."
In "The Legend of the Condor Heroes", the young Guo Jing learned the martial arts of the six Jiangnan monsters, but he was far from an opponent of the four masters who had participated in Huashan's sword theory.
In Hou Yingchao's view, the choppers need to practice the skills to the point of proficiency, supplemented by rich experience in the game, in order to demonstrate the essence of this style of play.
Therefore, players in the field of chipping generally have slower results, and they need to fumble for a long time in their careers to hone their mind and patience.
"Ma Long and Fan Zhendong both became world champions at the age of 17. There is no way for a chipper to do this at this age."
After entering the 21st century, the offensive style of play has become the mainstream of the world table tennis, and the chipping style of play is slowly dying out.
Take the men's arena as an example. Among the world's top players, there are only a handful of chippers. Later, only South Korea's Ju Se Hyuk was strong.
The highest achievement of his career, he was the runner-up of the men's singles in the 2003 World Table Tennis Championships.
In the middle and late stages of his career, Zhu Shihe was completely at a disadvantage in the confrontation with the "two kings and one horse" (Wang Liqin, Wang Hao, and Ma Lin) of similar ages, with almost no fight back.
"This has led to fewer and fewer players practicing chopping in the Chinese team and other national teams. Because this technique is tiresome. It is difficult to practice and it is difficult to be competitive."
Athletes who cut the ball, control their mentality is also very important.
cut ball training
Hou Yingchao and Ma Lin, the men's singles champion of the Beijing Olympics, were both born in 1980. The two have played against each other too many times in their careers. Hou Yingchao has only beaten Marin once, still in the Table Tennis Super League.
That victory, Hou Yingchao thought it was a bit of luck, because the opponent won with some carelessness.
"Maybe Marlene has never lost to me before, not 100% committed, and I did very well that day. If he played the game with the mentality of playing the World Series, I might still not have a chance to win him."
Hou's Premier League is difficult to win against the main players of the national table tennis team. In addition to the passive chopping method, there is also a reason for understanding each other too much.
They train in a gym every day, and you can see the content of each other's training when they look up.
"We have played together since we were young. They must know my spin very well. They even know how the ball spins as soon as I raise my hand."
If you blindly shrink in the mud of defeat, Hou Yingchao will only sink deeper and deeper. He needs to use a pole to climb out, stick his head out, and let his mind be detached.
During the more than ten years of training for the national team, he comforted himself countless times: "I just need to beat myself."
He began to look forward to making progress in every defeat.
The previous time he lost to his opponent 0-4, if he can get a game from the opponent in the next game, it will also make him feel relieved.
"When encountering an opponent who rarely wins, I will tell myself that I can never give up. I can't even have confidence. I give up once, and there will be many times in the same situation. Then I simply don't play."
In this excellent team of Guoping, the world champion is everywhere. The goal of becoming a world champion and Olympic champion seems to be the standard for every player.
Better players hope that one day they can win the "Grand Slam" and rewrite history.
Hou has never had such ambitions in the Premier League. This is not because he is easy to meet the status quo and get by, but because he is calm and accepts reality.
"I know that I will never reach the level of Ma Lin and Wang Liqin. I have known this from the day I entered the first team of the national team. I just want to compare myself. If I just stare at them, I guess I'm going to get depression."
It is hard for ordinary people to imagine what pressure he has endured during these years in Guoping. How to ensure that he is not eliminated in the adversity caused by his style of play is his daily issue.
One thing he is proud of is that he has never been late or left early for training every day of the 15 years. It is too difficult to do this. But this is his foothold.
"I can't practice less than others, but I must practice more than others."
Before entering the first team, Hou Yingchao quickly "graduated" in the youth team in less than 2 years.
In the youth team, we have to play round robin matches every month.
When Hou joined the Premier League, he ranked downstream among 20 people. There are rules in the big cycle. If you can reach the top three, you have a chance to be promoted to the first team.
He had a goal at once, trained harder than his peers, and soon reached the top three, entering the first team as he wished.
Hou Premier League remembers that he first stepped into the gate of the first team in December 1999. Three months later, in February 2000, he won the men's singles championship for the first time in the national championship.
In that competition, Liu Guoliang, Kong Linghui and other main players did not participate, and the previous National Youth Championship was upgraded to a national championship.
Hou Premier League played against a group of national players who were similar to his age, and finally stood on the highest podium.
The competition of the first national table tennis team is more intense than that of the youth team.
At that time, the ITTF tournaments had a limited number of entries, and high-level events only allowed one association to register up to 6 players.
Because there are few places for the competition, the 6 places are basically occupied by the main players. Once a chance is given, some non-main players will cherish it even more. But often due to excessive pressure, it is counterproductive and unbalanced in the center of the game.
Hou Premier League also had this situation.
Hou Premier League remembers that in those few years, he generally only participated in the first and second races a year. The first time he went to play on the tour was in October 2000.
At that time, the tournaments were divided into A and B levels. The competition in Finland is a B-level event, because the corresponding points are low, many masters did not register.
Hou Yingchao realized that this was the best opportunity to prove himself. His performance lived up to expectations and he won the first international championship of his career.
In the second week, he flew directly from Finland to Denmark. The Danish race is an A-level event, and there are many masters from all walks of life.
He lost to the later world champion and German star Boll in a 16-to-8 game, and he was out early.
Starting from the 2006 World Table Tennis Championships in Bremen, the National Table Tennis Championships started a through game mode, which gave non-main players hope.
They have the opportunity to become famous in one battle, to perform the role of "dark horse", and to stand on the stage of the World Series and become world champions.
The through game has become a "dream space", allowing them to imagine the whole process of breaking through the cocoon and becoming a butterfly.
The first through match was held at the end of 2005, and all the players of the national table tennis played a big round match.
Hou's performance in the Premier League's first through game was almost perfect, second only to Ma Lin and ranked second.
"I won Wang Liqin, Wang Hao and Chen Qi." It is not easy to win the main players in Guoping's internal competition. After several main players were beaten down one after another, Hou Yingchao almost "has a great battle."
That match was also the most shining scene in the memory of his national team. He became the highest-ranked chipper in the history of the national table tennis internal big loop competition.
That year, when he was 26 years old, he came to the mature stage of his career as a chipper. Everything seemed to be a matter of course. The place in the 2006 World Table Tennis Championships was beckoning him.
The problem is that the through pass is not a match. A few months later, Hou Yingchao ushered in the second pass through.
The main players who lost the ball in the first straight pass, this time they have fully prepared for him.
The through race is the most difficult one.
After more than one game in a day, just after losing a heart-piercing ball that should not be lost, the players should adjust their mentality within 1 to 2 hours to prevent the haze of defeat from covering their breath, causing a vicious circle of disadvantages. .
"At this time, every player doesn't need to look at the score sheet. Everyone knows the results and points."
Every game becomes crucial. After losing a few games in a row, Hou Yingchao knows that his trip to Bremen is suspended.
In the end, the results of his two through passes were added together and failed to help him win a ticket to the World Table Tennis Championships.
He once again became a cheerleader watching TV at home.
The experience of professional athletes who missed the World Championships need not be repeated, but Hou Yingchao can be extraordinary, tidy up his mood in the shortest time, and quickly get rid of frustration.
"I have to recognize myself. I have not been selected for the World Table Tennis Championships. It proves that my strength is not yet in place. This is fair competition. Athletes must face the result of the defeat and dare to bear it."
He stopped himself from being stubborn and allowed himself to be pessimistic.
"Some people think, maybe if you miss this game, you won't have such a good opportunity in your future career. I think you can delve into technology, but you must not think about this kind of thing, or move forward. Look, how can I improve in subsequent training."
Some people think it is too difficult for him to play in Guoping with this style of play. He disagrees.
"What's hard for me. It's really hard for them to participate in the Olympics. They can't lose but they can only win. The task of the game is to get back the gold medal without losing. This kind of pressure is really not what ordinary people can imagine. of."
Since the 21st century, Hou Yingchao is familiar with the Olympic champions and world champions produced from the national table tennis. Almost everyone has beaten him, and he has also obtained actual combat methods against cuts from him.
In Hou Yingchao's eyes, it is not "ordinary people" who can win the Olympic champions and world champions. "You can't measure their psychological quality by the thinking of ordinary people."
Nowadays, Hou Yingchao, who has come to the age of no doubt, is still fighting on the field. Ma Lin, who is his age, and even Wang Hao, who is younger than him, have become coaches.
Guoping did not bring him a title of world champion, but he was grateful to the big family of Guoping.
In early 2013, Hou Yingchao officially bid farewell to the national team. After leaving the team that had been there for more than 13 years, he did not appear to be at a loss for what to do.
"From 2010 to 2013, I often flew around and played in leagues abroad, and I was half out of the team."
He has always believed that this team will collect all domestic elites and that when he is old, he should make room for fresh blood.
"I was 32 years old when I left the national table tennis, and it is impossible to take part in international competitions." This parting did not have the reluctance of others when they encountered the same experience, but more of a calmness.
But at the same time, he did not forget the feeling of gratitude.
"In fact, during the time I played in the league abroad, the national team was able to retain my spot, which is already a great care for me. After I return to China, I can maintain high-quality confrontation in the team, which helps me to compete abroad. Good performance in the league."
He also knows that he has the opportunity to play in the league abroad, which is also the reward and recognition of the national team for his hard work over the years.
"The team arranged for me to go abroad to play games. This is with me personally to talk to others, the intensity is not necessarily at all."
So when the national team needed himself, he had no hesitation in his role.
In late June this year, he received a call from Qin Zhijian, the head coach of the National Table Tennis Men’s Team, asking if he could return to the team in August to participate in the Olympic simulation game.
"Of course, why not go to such a good thing?" He was pleased with the phone call, thinking it was an affirmation of Guoping's technology and love for table tennis.
During the short time when he returned to the national team, everything was still so familiar. Everyone is training in the same gym, and everyone is racing against time, for fear of practicing less than others.
However, Hou Yingchao also found that the number of players in the team has become very small, and the young players lack the experience of playing against the players.
Things are precious.
Chopping the ball became a "special play", leaving young players confused for a while in the match.
This trip to Lingshui has been of great benefit to his current table tennis career. He enjoys the game without the psychological burden of defending the championship.
He knows that the moment he stands on the court is an inspiration for young athletes and fans.
"They all said that'Brother Hou' insisted on being on the field, which is the embodiment of sportsmanship.
While helping the young players adapt to the chopping style, he is also feeling the innovation and advanced level of table tennis technology, which will help him prepare for the Shaanxi National Games next year.
After winning the championship last year, he took his daughter and son to stand on the podium together. It is the supreme happiness of honor and family happiness.
He was grateful again for the gift that life had given him, "God took care of me and gave me such a good family and such a good pair of children."
Because of this, Hou Yingchao, who is now a professional player, hopes that he can better provoke the responsibility of his family.
"Professional players have to use their strength to speak, use the ball to speak, not only by training, but also by high standards. I have a large family to support. If the game cannot be won, it will affect my income and cause The quality of life has declined."
Breaking away from the collective standardized training life, he did not relax at all to his own requirements, and tried to find a balance between his career and his family.
Hou Yingchao and his daughter
From Monday to Friday, he gets up early every day to make breakfast for his children, and then sends his daughter and son to school. After that, he will spend a day on technical training and physical training.
There is only one technical training a week, Hou Yingchao can still maintain a good hand feel, thanks to his decades of day-to-day, solid foundation laid by practical training.
"I can't imagine it, I have been practicing for more than 30 years, and the memory in my hands is very clear. Even if I practice every day, my skills can't be improved much."
Physical training is the part he pays more attention to.
At the age of 40, any negligence may cause physical injury, "Athletes cannot be injured, their body is under control, weight gain may bring injuries, because we need to move when playing table tennis.
"We can't go against the laws of nature. As I grow older, my body's various skills, flexibility, and reaction speed have receded. I just want to maintain my competitive state."
For this reason, he specially hired a rehabilitation team to escort his physical fitness.
"I have played a lot of games during this time, and there will be minor injuries. The rehabilitation team will help me and tell me which aspects of training should be enhanced."
On weekends, he leaves all time for the children, and on Saturday he will send the children to learn drumming and swimming. On Sunday, he did not arrange any courses for the children, and spent time with them to enjoy the good time on the weekend.
He tried to expose his daughter to table tennis, but found that she was not interested. He respected his daughter's choice and did not insist that the son inherit his father's business.
"Forcing her to be boring, she can have her own hobbies, or she can be good in other fields."
Hou Yingchao and his children
His son is now over 4 years old, and he has started to exchange ideas with his parents, and his speech is very awkward. Hou Yingchao will wonder why children over 4 years old speak so much.
"It's not like 4 years old at all. We watched Transformers when we were young, and now we have all kinds of cartoons."
His thoughts drifted back to the time when he first started learning table tennis. He did not have winter or summer vacations. Every time he took a vacation, he would train more than usual because he didn't have to attend classes.
His daughter's question about the change of gold medal to bronze medal amused him and at the same time inspired him to keep moving forward. He still loves this arena. The age of 40 is not the end of his career.
"I am not thinking about coaching after the National Games. I just want to play for a few more years as long as my physical condition allows. Table tennis is my strongest point. I have been doing this for so many years. Career, there is still value now."
He has not won a world championship, nor has he participated in the Olympics, but the history of table tennis records his achievements-"In history, there may only be three chippers who have won the men's singles championship. I’m one of them and I’ve won it twice. I was older than them when I won the championship."
This is the honor and wealth that table tennis brings to him, and it is also the most extraordinary thing in his ordinary life.
Hou Yingchao, born in 1980, 40 years old this year. To