[Xinhua] Hone the Sword in a Decade: Luneng Players Shine at Paris World Table Tennis Championships

  Jinan, May 21 (Xinhua/Wu Shuguang) --May 20 is a memorable day for Luneng Table Tennis Club: Li Xiaoxia and Zhang Jike added a splendid one to its many records in Chinese table tennis history.

  On May 20, Luneng player, new "Grand Slam" winner Zhang Jike claimed his second men's singles champion at consecutive World Championships. Thus China men’s table tennis team wins its 17th St.Bride Cup. His teammate Li Xiaoxia, following her winning of women’s singles and achievement of “Grand Slam” on May 19, crowned the women's doubles champion on May 21. Paris World Championships’ trophies of men's singles, women's singles and doubles have all marked Luneng imprint.

  Hone the sword in a decade. Luneng Table Tennis Club has created many firsts in Chinese table tennis history: the first professional table tennis club, the first club winning men’s and women’s team titles in a single-season, the first professional sports club which has cultivated an Olympic champion …

  “Grand Slam” from Luneng Table Tennis Club

  At Rotterdam World Championships, the Shandong boy Zhang Jike’s excited shout after winning was still very impressive. This serious but also passionate young man is authentically "made in Luneng". Zhang Jike’s father Zhang Chuanming is a coach in Qingdao training base of Luneng Club. Before the son went to Jinan, he was trained in the Qingdao base.

  In 2000, 12-year-old Zhang Jike was selected by the club coach and began his professional career in Jinan. The then chief coach of Luneng men’s team Gu Qingcheng still remembered his acquaintance with Zhang Jike. "In 2000, Shandong Electric Power Group Corporation officially took over the former Qingdao table tennis team, setting up the Qingdao training base. I went to Qingdao to scout players and perceived his good talent at first glance, then took him back to Jinan. "

  Coaches devoted great efforts to this talented boy and Zhang Jike’s improvement is obvious. From obtaining 2002 ITTF Japan Open U-21 men's singles champion, Zhang Jike grew rapidly winning several champions each year.

  At 2012 London Olympics, Zhang Jike claimed the title with indomitable fighting spirit and superb playing skills, becoming the fastest Chinese male table tennis player to complete the Grand Slam. It took Kong Linghui five years, Liu Guoliang three years, but only 15 months for Zhang Jike.

  Different from Zhang Jike’s growth route in Luneng, Li Xiaoxia was attached to Luneng in Table Tennis Super League.

  In 2005, Li Xiaoxia first joined Luneng table tennis team and helped the club win its first Super League women's team champion ahead of three rounds. Since then, she helped the team win 2008, 2010 and 2011’s champions.

  "For Li Xiaoxia, the greatest progress is that she can come forward when the team needs most and win when it must win,” commented Yu Guopeng, the chief coach of Luneng women’s team.

  From the 2008 World Cup Champion to 2013 World Championships, Li Xiaoxia took five years to complete the Grand Slam, the same as Deng Yaping, but two years longer than Wang Nan and one year longer than Zhang Yining, becoming the fourth Grand Slam in China women’s singles.

  Be the best table tennis club

  Luneng Table Tennis Club was founded in early 2000. At that time, Shandong table tennis team was not able to win medals in national games because of athletes’ faultage and the serious slowdown of overall competitive level. After thorough communication with Shandong Provincial Sports Bureau, Shandong Electric Power Group Corporation took over the former Shandong men and women's table tennis team and set up Luneng Table Tennis Club, creating a precedent of a company in charge of a professional table tennis team.

  Shortly after the club’s foundation, in the naming ceremony of Luneng Cup China Table Tennis Super League, the then corporate president Liu Zhenya said: “A country’s sports competition level reflects its comprehensive strength and international status. Shandong Electric Power Group Corporation is a large state-owned group. We support and participate in sports with a strong sense of social responsibility. Table tennis is a worldwide competitive sport, but also a popular nationwide fitness campaign. We aim to build a world-class tennis club and fight for China and the world's first race results. We will take the ‘iron style’ of Shandong Electric into the club: strict management, hard training and rigorous competition. Win the competition with the first-class spirit and style! "

  Sports insiders appraised that large group corporation involving in sports cause was an inevitable trend of sports industrialization in the market economy. We should learn from Shandong Electric Power Group Corporation that they use the corporate way to manage and operate sports cause.

  Luneng Table Tennis Club launched real changes to avoid being one of the cases that “club” was another name of a professional team. Many of the best construction achievements and management experience of Shandong Electric Power was quickly transplanted to Luneng, bringing strong vitality to table tennis development in Shandong.

  Luneng’s standardized operations bring security to the players. Korean table tennis player Zhu Shihe, who once played in Luneng, said in an interview:”Luneng Club is the most standardized and professional club I have seen. I can play at ease here."

  Fruit of standardized management

  Good results are out of effective management. Sports team is no exception. Yin Xiao, head coach of Luneng Table Tennis Club, said: "In Luneng, from players to coaches, chief coaches and head coach, everyone has a regulation book telling you the standards of behavior and authority."

  On a long-term perspective, Luneng club firmly puts the team construction as the core and "strict management, hard training and rigorous competition" as the team's management approach. On the wall of the club there is an eye-catching slogan -- "Hard mind, style, skill, psychology and overall quality; Strong specialty, strength and sense ", which is also Luneng’s team building concept.

  In addition, the club adopts "famous coach strategy", employing many excellent domestic coaches and paying attention to the scientific distribution of their ages. Yin Xiao said: "Most coaches are young but there are also the elders. Young coaches acquire knowledge quickly; while elders can put forward constructive ideas with their rich experience. The coaches are all very dedicated and fond of this cause. "

  While developing a standardized and professional management system, in order to create a "Centennial Club", Luneng club has set up Qingdao training base and Weifang table tennis school, creating a new mode of training reserve forces independently, forming a trinity and complementary pattern with the headquarter in Jinan, a training base in Qingdao and a school in Weifang. The club selects talent youth through annual competition from the three places to replenish the team. It is reported that many people apply for the competition every year, but due to limited conditions, only the best 24 people are selected.

  Sun Jian, executive vice president of the club, introduced that for those young players, who grew up away from home, the club paid attention to not only their skills, but also cultural learning and personal moral education. Usually, except training, on every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoon, the team will hire experts and professors to teach players cultural lessons.

  Considering the players’ development, the club actively establishes good cooperation with colleges and universities in Shandong. Thus players can go to the universities for concentrated study in their spare time or holidays.

  A club insider said that Luneng is not complacent of cultivating the Grand Slam winners like Zhang Jike and Li Xiaoxia. On the road of exploring professionalization, “in search of excellence, in pursuit of out-performance” is the club's spiritual pursuit.

  Source: Xinhua News Agency

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