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Ma lin|From legendary Chinese table tennis player to head coach

ma lin

When it comes to the best table tennis players in China, who is the first one that comes to your mind? Maybe you think of Ma Long and Zhang Jike. But when it comes to the best Chinese penhold player, Ma Lin may be the first one that comes to our mind. Ma lin is recognized as the best penhold player in the past 10 years. He has the best serving skills in the world and has won 18 world championships in his career. This blog will take you to learn more about his legendary life.

Ma lin—Best penhold Chinese table tennis player

Ma lin’s Early experience

Ma Lin was born on February 19, 1980, in Shenyang, Liaoning Province. His father, Ma Hui, works in a glass instrument factory, and his mother, Xia Jingru, works in a textile factory. In 1986, the amateur sports school in Shenhe District selected table tennis seedlings, and Ma Lin was selected, thus starting the life of practicing in the morning and afternoon. Later in 1990, Ma Lin entered the Liaoning Provincial Sports School.

ma lin

In 1992, a private entrepreneur in Shantou sponsored the establishment of the Shantou Table Tennis School and the Junior Table Tennis Team. The head coach was Liu Mingshui.

The next year, in the National Junior Competition, Ma Lin and several other players were introduced to Shantou. The Shantou team also introduced a number of young players from other parts of the country, including Liu Guozheng, Tan Ruiwu, Zhang Yu, Li Chao, and Ding Ying.

Coach Liu Mingshui said that the training time for an athlete in Shantou Table Tennis School is at least 7 hours a day, and the training volume is about 1/3 more than that of athletes in other regions.

And Ma Lin’s training attitude was very serious, especially during the preparation for the Guangdong Ninth National Games. The training volume is large and the training time is long.

Ma Lin not only practiced hard to serve but also practiced multiple balls back and forth, which requires a wide range of running. He practiced so hard that broke a pair of sneakers every week.

In 1994, at the Guangdong Provincial Games, Ma Lin won 3 gold medals in singles, doubles, and team table tennis for the Shantou team in one breath. Later, 14-year-old Ma Lin won the first men’s singles championship in his life in the national youth competition.

In that game, he was appreciated by coach Cai Zhenhua and started his national team career.

Two years after Ma Lin was selected for the Chinese team, his parents were laid off one after another. In order not to affect Ma Lin’s training in the Chinese team, the couple decided to keep him secret for the time being.

Ma Lin’s parents borrowed ten thousand yuans from relatives to open a small restaurant in the urban area. In order to save money, they were both the boss and the waiter.

Ma lin’s National team career

Ma Lin has won four World Cup championships in her career and is also the first person to get a straight victory in World Cup Men’s Singles Championship. He has won a total of 18 world championships in his life.

In 1998, Ma Lin won the men’s doubles and men’s team championships at the Asian Championships, as well as the men’s singles championships at the Malaysia and Lebanon Opens. From this moment on, Ma lin began his championship road. 

In the 1999 World Table Tennis Championships, Ma Lin beat the world-famous players such as Waldner and Samsonov and got second place in the men’s singles and the gold medal in the mixed doubles.

In 2001, he won the World Table Tennis Championships Men’s Team Championship and the ITTF Tour Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles Championship. Later he got the doubles champion in the 2004 Athens Olympics (with Chen Qi).

ma lin

Later ma lin got the 2006 Paris World Cup singles champion and the most important medal in his total career, the 2008 Beijing Olympic men’s team champion, men’s singles champion.

In the 2013 Paris World Table Tennis Championships, Ma Lin lost to Japanese player Kenta Matsudaira in the men’s singles match and stopped in the second round.

On the evening of December 8, 2013, Beijing time, Olympic champion Ma Lin married his girlfriend Zhang Yaqing.

At the wedding scene, Ma Lin officially announced her retirement. After retiring, Ma Lin returned to Guangdong and took over as director of Guangdong Table Tennis Center.

Ma lin’s lifelong regret

Ma Lin is not a Grand Slam player. The biggest regret in his career is that he participated in the World Table Tennis Championships 9 times, but failed to win the championship. Three times he reached the final, but three times he returned with hatred.

The first time, in the 1997 Manchester World Table Tennis Championships, the men’s singles 1/16 final, Ma Lin lost to Samsonov and missed the top 16.

For the 2nd time, in the 1999 World Table Tennis Championships in Eindhoven, Ma Lin played a heroic role, winning streak of Samsonov and Waldner, and reached the final. In the final, he faced the Olympic champion Liu Guoliang.

The two fought to a 2-2 draw, and Liu Guoliang led 23-22 in the final game. Ma Lin served, Liu Guoliang turned his forehand to rush the slash, Ma Lin blocked, Liu Guoliang pulled again, Ma Lin pushed out and Liu Guoliang won 24-22.

He fell to the ground in excitement to celebrate, becoming the first national table tennis player in Grand Slam in China.

The third time, in the 2001 Osaka World Table Tennis Championships, in the men’s singles semi-final, Ma Lin lost to Kong Linghui and won the bronze medal.

For the 4th time, in the 2003 Paris World Table Tennis Championships, in the men’s singles quarter-finals, Ma Lin met South Korea’s No. 1 chopper Zhu Shihe, and the two fought to a 3-3 draw, with Zhu Shihe leading 10-9 in the deciding game.

Zhu Shihe served the ball, Ma Lin turned his forehand to rush to the slash, Zhu Shihe backhanded back, and Ma Lin rushed down the net with a forehand. 11-9, Zhu Shihe won, and Ma Lin, missed the semi-finals.

The 5th time, in the 2005 Shanghai World Table Tennis Championships, in the men’s singles final, Ma Lin trailed Wang Liqin 2-3 and 7-10 in the 6th game. Finally, Ma Lin lost the match 7-11.

For the 6th time, at the World Table Tennis Championships in Zagreb in 2007, Ma Lin met Wang Liqin again in the final. Ma Lin made full preparations, leading 3-1 and 7-1 in the fifth game. However, Wang Liqin staged a shocking reversal and once again defeated Ma Lin.
match video between ma lin and wang liqin 2007

For the 7th time, in the 2009 Yokohama World Table Tennis Championships, in the men’s singles semi-final, Ma Lin and Wang Liqin fought to the deciding set, and Ma Lin fell behind 6-10. Again, Ma lin lost the game.

For the 8th time, in the 2011 World Table Tennis Championships in Rotterdam, in the men’s singles quarter-finals, Ma Lin was defeated by Ma Long and missed the semi-finals.

For the 9th time, in the 2013 Paris World Table Tennis Championships, in the second round of men’s singles, Ma Lin lost 1-4 to Japanese player Kenta Matsudaira. At the end of the year, Ma Lin announced her retirement, ending her sports career.

Ma Lin lost three times to his old rival Wang Liqin, which was full of regrets. I can still recall that when I was very young, I was totally disappointed when I saw Ma Lin reversed by Wang Liqin in front of the TV.

Ma lin’s Playstyle

Ma Lin is a typical player with a Chinese traditional penhold style. His first three strokes are unmatched in today’s table tennis. Ma lin uses both inverted rubbers in the forehand and backhand.

There are many changes in his serves and strong confusion, which can often create opportunities for attacking. Ma lin is able to flip both straight lines and diagonal lines. Ma Lin’s forehand fast loop drive is his main scoring method.

Apart from that, Ma Lin’s backhand is characterized by a combination of pushing and blocking. Especially his side-cut can effectively disrupt the opponent’s rhythm, and then can use his forehand loop to get the victory.

His teammate Chen qi once commented on Ma lin’s playstyle, “We have to put a trash bin next to the court in the match with Ma Lin, and vomit while playing. His play style is way too disgusting.”

From Chen Qi’s words, we can see that Ma Lin’s style of play often causes great discomfort to the opponent.

Ma lin’s Equipment

Ma lin uses YASAKA ma lin soft carbon blade.

Yasaka Ma lin soft carbon is a table tennis blade launched by the Japan Yasaka company under the name of Ma Lin. The structure is 5 wood layers and 2 soft carbon layers. It is suitable for players who are good at controlling and attacking. His rubbers are DHS NEO Skyline 2 & Yasaka mark v.

Ma lin’s marriage and life after retirement

Compared with his career in table tennis, Ma Lin’s personal life is also “incomparably dazzling”.

Once ma lin met a beautiful movie actor Zhang Ningyi (formerly Zhang Yi) at a dinner party. In 2005, Ma Lin brought Zhang Ningyi back to his hometown of Shenyang to meet his parents.

Both parents were very satisfied. After the 2008 Beijing Olympics, they got married (in fact, they got married in 2004, and they were hidden for 4 years).

On May 15, 2009 (after the World Table Tennis Championships in Moscow), a photo of Ma Lin and a mysterious woman caused an uproar.

In the photo, Ma Lin is driving a red Porsche, carrying a “tattooed woman” with the letter “M” on the back of her left hand! For a time, major websites across the country were flooded with news of “Ma Lin’s infidelity in marriage”.

ma lin

On September 27, 2009, various media reported that Ma Lin and Zhang Ningyi were divorced. Until 2 pm on June 23, 2010, the divorce case of Ma Lin and Zhang Ningyi was heard in Beijing Daxing Court.

Due to the fact that the plaintiff and the defendant had a large dispute over the property, the case could not be pronounced in court. Ma Lin finally agreed to give Zhang Ningyi a villa worth 7 million or 8 million yuan in Yizhuang, and at the same time agreed to give Zhang Ningyi a deposit of 5 million yuan.

Adding the two properties together, Zhang Ningyi’s share of the property reached tens of millions of yuan.

Ma Lin’s second wife, Zhang Yaqing, is a Hebei girl who used to be a gymnast and later became a Pilates teacher in a club. The couple announced their marriage in 2013.

ma lin

After the two fell in love for three years, they held a grand wedding in Beijing. Subsequently, Ma Lin, who had already passed his 30th birthday, retired from the national team. On April 19, 2016, their son Ma Muxi came to this world.

After Ma Lin retired in 2014, he has successively served as the head coach of the Guangdong Provincial Table Tennis Team and the coach of the National Table Tennis Team.

Later, after Liu Guoliang left the national team, he also left the national team in 2017. After only half a year on the national team, he lost his job, which made the former world champion feel confused and disappointed in his life.

Although Ma Lin is a little lonely, for the sake of the family, for the sake of his loving wife and lovely son, he must do something.

In the table tennis team, in addition to training, Ma Lin does the most thing is to play games, he can be regarded as a “video game master”.

ma lin

In February 2018, Ma Lin decided to apply for the position of Tencent game anchor.

Of course, because the industry is too far apart from table tennis, he once hesitated and doubted. But finally, Ma Lin became the first person in history to change from an Olympic champion to a game anchor, which can be said to have created another world record.

ma lin

However, the competition among game anchors is fierce and younger. In addition, his old waist injury shows signs of recurrence after sitting for a long time. After explaining “Fighting Landlord” and “Super Mary” for half a year, Ma Lin had to resign from this job.

Subsequently, Ma Lin began to look for the next job. In mid-August 2018, a winery in Guizhou invited Ma Lin to endorse and promote wine.

In order to play the role of Ma Lin’s Olympic champion, and to bless the aura of Ma Lin’s world champion, the winery named the liquor “Lin Jiang”, and Ma Lin was hired as “Mr. Lin Jiang”.

In December 2018, Ma Lin once again entered the national team to coach as the head coach of Liu Shiwen and Chen Meng.

Under Ma Lin’s careful teaching and strict management, the two apprentices lived up to their expectations and captured the flag in many competitions.

At the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships in Houston, Ma Lin, the head of the women’s coaching team, is even busier.

In addition to instructing two new partners, Chen Meng and Qian Tianyi, he also filmed videos showing the training scenes of the Chinese team, and mixed Chinese and English texts, causing many domestic netizens to shout “Lin Jiang is so funny!”

The epidemic was postponed to the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, and Ma Lin led her disciple Chen Meng to win two gold medals in a row.

Of course, he has played a major role in winning the Chinese women’s team championship.

ma lin


February 19, 2022, is Ma Lin’s 42nd birthday. He was training in Hainan and looking forward to the next Olympic Games with great ambition. He received a roll call from the World Table Tennis Federation: “Happy birthday to you, Ma Lin.”

Ma Lin has transformed from a legendary Chinese table tennis player to an indispensable member of the coaching team of the Chinese national table tennis team. 

He has won four World Cup championships in his career. Now he has become a meritorious coach. We all wish Ma’s coaching career will continue to create new brilliance in the future!

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