My Road to Table Tennis(The Ping Pong Years)
Kong Linghui 孔令辉 - World Champion
(This is a translation based on an article in "New Sports")
I'd say it is a little far too early for someone like me to talk about a topic like this. As with most of my contemporaries, my career and life have just started, the road ahead is yet too long to perceive. However, it's probably because I've done a little something in table tennis, people have shown interest in my experiences. Well, it may be necessary that I write down what I have gone through in table tennis and hope it may provide some reference for younger people; and provide myself with more drive in the future.Mum and dad
Someone once asked my dad: "Why have you only one son?" That sounds an odd question, but not unreasonable. My parents are about 50 and when they were young, the 'one-child' practice was not much of a social concern yet. I've never liked the idea of being an only child, and would rather have an older brother to guard me or at least a younger one. But my father's answer was rather interesting: " I think it would be hard to give them equally what they'd deserve, then we settled down for the only one." That is quite 'exquisite' and doesn't seem really match what he looks like. In fact, he's always been gentle inside and hard from outside. He's a forthright tough North-easterner, but full of thoughtful feelings. They both invested a great deal in my grow-up. Take for instance my attendance to nursery school, they made very considerate choice. The first one I attended was the nearest to where we lived. But they thought I should go to a better one for better education, hence decided to send me in to the Provincial No.1 Nursery School. This one is not only far to take me to and from school everyday, but dearer. Their monthly salary was merely RMB37.5 each and my school fee cost RMB42( then about US$18.-lynn). Recalling those days, they sound quite easy:" We were only investing in education." After all, they had only about RMB30 something left for themselves, and that life just couldn't be easy by any means. However, their tremendous care on me wasn't a spoiling one. There was a Sunday morning when I was about three or four, I pestered for a toy gun. Dad said he would buy me one when he had finished house work. I just couldn't wait for a second and cried to pressure him. With my naughtiness in sight, he turned around not to give me a glance. I was left there without 'steps' to retreat and had to cry badly in the winter cold for a good two hours. At last, it was mum that took me back to say sorry to dad and ask for pardon. During those days, I must do at least one 'good' thing at weekend - washing my own handkerchieves or socks at first, and later helping parents clean floor. One day, I spotted ice in the corridor that caused inconvenience to people, so decided to get rid of it. It was extremely cold out there and before too long I was red cheeked. But they didn't show up to help me throughout. They later told me if I were ever to make any promise, I had to get it fulfilled myself. If there are today any commendable habits in me, it's because of the education they gave me. Things like this have helped me a lot in my table tennis career.Early days of table tennis
My father is a table tennis coach( one of the top coaches in China - Lynn). While I must admit that has played an important part in my career, it is still different from Liu Guoliang and Deng Yaping's case(both grew up in table tennis family with Deng's father also one of the leading coaches in China, Liu's father a professional coach and older brother professional player.) I started table tennis not under the request of my parents but by my own decision. In fact, I was with table tennis long before I could play. The nursery I started from three shared the same compound with Hei Long Jiang Provincial Sports Team. Everyday after my father collected me from the nursery, I would follow him to the Table Tennis Squad to look for some fun. There was nothing really of good fun in the training hall but loads of balls that I could play with. That huge hall to me was like a maze of some kind.
Later on, I was transferred to the Provincial No.1 Nursery where there was a table tennis training class for kids before I went there. Soon after, my father was invited to become their advisor. The strange thing was, as a table tennis coach's son, I'd rather be a spectator than taking part. I just didn't feel it was much an interest to me. And my parents for their part didn't cared much about whether I should learn table tennis. Maybe they just thought whether I played or not was nothing more than a kiddy hobby thing. At that time, they couldn't possibly consider it a concern of my future career.
When I was about 6, I suddenly decided I would learn to play. The idea was more or less to do with school teachers' guide. The funny thing was my father didn't even have a clue I'd started table tennis. One Saturday afternoon, I asked him after school:" Dad, can you make me a bat, I've started playing." And that was when he first knew I was in it. Strictly speaking, he was not my 'first' coach. Although his coaching level was certainly lot higher than my school teacher's, I'd rather listen to my teacher. There was once he noticed my stroke was not quite right and asked me to correct it. I used my 'shield' to oppose him:" This is how my teacher taught me, you dare to say my teacher is not right?" Perhaps out of his respect for the teachers' image in me, he since then had hardly tried again to correct my techniques. Instead, he privately exchanged views with school teachers and let them coach me.Kiddy table tennis funs
When I was about to start primary school, I became addicted to table tennis and just couldn't do without it for a single day. My craving of winning games left some funny stories that later became my parents' everyday mention. It was about 1982 when my mother worked in the local neighbourhood office, she knew the local Police Station quite well. When the police heard my father was the coach of provincial team, they asked her:" How about a friendly match with his players?" Her colleague teased them:" Hey! Don't mention his players, try his son first!" The policemen were excited and all wanted to play me. One of them promised if he lost he would give me his badge. That prize was just so alluring! I not only defeated him but everyone that came forward. But when I asked him to that promise, he turned back to his words! Thinking of that today, it was out of sense for a policeman to hand out his police badge just for that. I cried out:" You are uncle policeman, you shouldn't cheat me!" At last, their superintendent came out and said: "You are right, uncle policeman should never cheat." He took the badge off that policeman and handed it over to me! That was really a big day in my childhood.
Even when I was that much obsessed with table tennis, I didn't think for a second I would be doing it for a future. There were so many other interesting things and table tennis was only one of those. I participated in a painting & calligraphy contest in the Ji Hong Primary and my work was called 'Towards 2000' in which there were skyscrapers, nice roads, greens and flowers, aeroplane, rocket and satellite in the sky, very modern. It won me the prize and was shown in the school display window. My mum even today is so proud of it: " Little Hui never saw those things that time, but his imagination could well match what we have today." Indeed, if there were ever dreams in my childhood days, they were me becoming soldier, scientist, or something to do with a modernised life...... table tennis national player and world champion were hardly into my mind. The interesting thing is that what has realised is not the dreamt of but the least thought of.
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