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Off the table player sightings SWE&GER Opens

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MartinCho29 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 10/20/2019 at 3:11pm
I visited Stockholm and then Bremen every day for the past two ITTF tournaments.

I was at the same hotels as quite a few players and more or less living, breathing, walking, eating etc around them constantly for two weeks, meaning I saw some things!

This post will contain various of these sightings. Or those that I remember right now. I'll post more if remember more.

First some disclaimer:

I apologize beforehand if some of this will be too gossipy for some or simply not very interesting at all. 

Most if not all of these observations are small ones.

I also realize that whatever I saw were only small windows into what is going on, I'm not inside the hotel rooms (obviously!) or in the training hall facilities where they spend most of the time and very rarely actually talked to any players, and when I did it was only few sentences, I just met and saw them around the cities, in and outside the playing hall/arena and hotels constantly for two weeks straight. 

And no I did not follow anyone around or anything like that, except the unavoidable when going back from the playing hall/arena to the same hotel, going every single day to the tournament and being around it, you just met the players constantly from breakfast in the morning, in and out of hotel lobby, arena/hall or whenever going out to eat dinner or lunch at the nearby restaurants.

But in general and because this has only been glimpses, I pass no judgement or try to conclude too much, if anything, from what I saw. 

I'll simply post various (small) things that I happened to see these past two weeks.

For me as a recent hardcore table tennis fan (before 3 or 4 years ago I was more of a casual fan), it was an interesting and fresh experience, with surprises also, for others who are maybe not as interested in these players or are longtime fans who have already seen, heard and experienced being an outsider/fan close or close-ish to these players, it may not be interesting at all, but perhaps it could be for fans who haven't had the opportunity to experience tournaments quite like this, living them it feels like basically, so hopefully this post will be interesting to some.

Well, I should also say that I'm mostly interested in the best players and maybe in particular CNT and JNT and it was CNT that I was fortunate being the closest to and which fascinates me the most. 

Breakfast at the hotel:

From what I saw Ding Ning is the first player to show up everyday by some distance. Until she was knocked out in Sweden, the time each day is around 7.30 and it wasn't any later than that until Monday where she, Liu Shiwen and Zhu Yuling (more on her later!) stayed an extra day before going back to China instead of on to Germany.

Of course the jetlag could also be a factor for when the various players showed up at breakfast and in what order. I know some of them celebrated China national day just before flying over.

Chen Meng for an example, who I saw go in and out of the hotel quite a few times, I never saw at breakfast. The Chinese team was also split up into a couple of different hotels.

One thing that struck, and I guess surprised me a little bit, was that at no point did I see any of the top female players (CNT A-TEAM) at the hotel talk to each other or sit together at breakfast.   

Ding Ning would either eat alone each day or a couple of times the following days be joined by Xu Xin who would arrive later and also leaving quicker than most. 

Those two would talk some. But mostly Ding Ning looks at her phone.

Liu Shiwen always arriving second would also every morning be either alone at a table or later be joined by one of the male staff who I would often see shoulder massage female players in the stands following matches. I don't know his name.

Wang Manyu would also sit alone, and while I, without studying in detail, just walking past tables to get my own breakfast, would describe both DN and LSW mixing healthy but also definitely unhealthy parts of the buffet, Wang Manyu had the most striking breakfast choice that I saw during my stay, it was white toast bread with added thick layer of ketchup instead of using butter and then plenty of cocktail sausages on top...

Unlike the female players, the male players, arriving gradually later, would often group together at tables and seem social with each other, similar story with the Chinese coaches who would sit together. The non Chinese CNT staff I would sometimes see in the lobby but never at breakfast. Of course, I don't sit at breakfast all morning. Far from it.

I should mention that on Sunday after it was all over I did see Liu Shiwen and Ding Ning together in the lobby chatting (so there is not an invisible wall between the A team female players all the time), it turned out waiting for a younger (male) member of the team bringing them takeaway from a nearby Chinese restaurant, that they would then (somewhat shamelesslyLOL, most ppl are more discreet with the food they bring in from outside to their hotel) take to their rooms. 

Speaking of nearby Chinese restaurants, that's where many players and whole teams would be at after their matches had finished, seemingly every afternoon before calling it a night, which brings me to Zhu Yuling who really made me wonder this tournament.

Of course, in Sweden, she lost early and the next day I saw her wearing face mask and huge warm white jacket going to the hall behind me as I was going there also, then take seat alone in the back row and seem extremely life-crushed.

Next time I saw her, next mid-day I think, was in the hotel lobby heading for the elevator. Going there has a very slight uphill tilt and it seemed like she couldn't even make her way up there, walking very slow, almost sideways crab-like. It looked very strange and at that point I was thinking she was either injured or just came back from some grueling training session.

But then, Saturday night, when all play was over and I was looking for somewhere still open to get late dinner I saw her arm in arm (that was not unusual to see from some of the CNT female players, like Chen Xintong would walk to hotel with teammates like that) coming back from the restaurant where it seemed CNT were mostly hanging out, but here it wasn't walking normal arm in arm, Zhu Yuling was clearly getting supported and it really looked like she could barely walk on her own, taking breaks and walking very slow. She was wearing a facemask again and that huge white jacket. If this was anyone but one of the best table tennis players in the world, I would be pretty sure this person was dead drunk. It looked very peculiar.

Then I saw her last time, breakfast Monday, where she walked around completely normal. No sign of injury or anything. 

Conclude what you will!

That Saturday it was so late that McDonalds was my only option and who did I meet in there? 

Lin Gaoyuan and Sun Wen eating burgers and fries. LGY had beaten Dima earlier that day but would lose next day to Wang Chuqin.

I was really surprised to see them there. Maybe I shouldn't be but this was moments after the seemingly drunk ZYL sighting and I have to say some of my CNT preassumtions were getting shaken a little bit. I'm not saying, for better or worse, but shaken for sure. 

I felt like I had to say SOMETHING, also because I kept meeting these guys and at this point on my 2 week trip maybe it still seemed like too crazy a coincidence that I kept meeting the best players in the world (of course it wasn't at all, simply because we were all moving in the same small area of the city), so I just mentioned that I was a fan who had watched the matches and then I just about started to mumble something about if they didn't also think that Dima's serves were illegal, Dima had so many points straight from serve in this match where he was otherwise outplayed, but LGY just said thank you, thank you a few times, and seemed a little embarrassed (but who knows) and maybe a little sheepish, so I quickly left them alone and waited for my food instead.

Wang Chuqin I never saw at breakfast. Only met him going back and forth from hotel to the playing hall. Him and some of the other young male players would often make their way alone to the hall before warmup and match listening to music. Generally I would say he was definitely here, both tournaments, to make an impression, and interacted with fans crowd from the beginning, as well as playing great of course.

Many of the younger male players would hang out/walk around in groups a lot. Fan Zhendong included who sometimes seemed to have a little bit of an entourage going on. Xu Xin was generally more alone or sometimes quick lunch with Qin Zhijian.

One younger player especially (I THINK YU Ziyang but not 100 pct sure) almost seemed like a personal assistant or fixer type sometimes, in the hall running errands, delivering messages or equipment between training area and spectator seats but also generally someone the others liked to have around. He seemed to always be in these groups of 3 and 4. The one constant presence. I think it was also him who brought DN and LSW take-away food.

The one player from another NT who I saw hang around in these groups out and about in the city sometimes was Wong Chun Ting.

Of the coaches Wu Jingping clearly still hangs around CNT a lot, both visiting their hotel frequently and going to dinner with them.

Even more random: but one time I knew I had one of these CNT groups (I think Yan An, Yu Ziyang, Zhou  Qihao and Sun Wen) walking behind me, we're going back to the hotel, I see Hina Hayata (one of my favorites!) coming towards me and group, and as she sees them, she starts covering her face up in her hoodie and looking distinctively down. Seemingly wanting to hide from them.

One who could not hide was Ishakawa after her loss in Bremen. I met her as she had left the arena and I was heading towards there, a whole tv crew following her, while she is visibly crying, microphone right above her and cameras in her face. Definitely felt sorry for her there.

There were Japanese film crew and photographers I think for all of Ito, Ishakawa, Hirano matches. For the top male players also I think.

Hirano seems to have a lively personality always in a hurry, confused or excited by something when you see her in the hall (always in a hurry not sure what to do or go or not organized could be a negative spin). One time before a match she clearly couldn't get over how funny one of ball kids high fived her, and kept trying to get her double's partner Ishikawa's attention about it. Ishikawa kept ignoring her though.

Going to the arena in Bremen you had to go through this train station with lots of eating places, none of them any good I don't think, (other places in Bremen and the arena itself while big was nice enough but the whole Hauptbahnhof area inside and especially outside was a I have to say something of shithole and I kinda felt bad for players moving about and living in this area) and so I don't forget, I have to single out Wang Yidi who I twice saw ordering these, to some disgusting, over the top and then some, extremely sugary pink donuts from one of the stands there.

Maybe too gossipy, so I don't want to name names, but one male French player who is dating a female player from another NT, did enjoy bragging about his big **** to his gf at the expense of the noisy Japanese player (not Harimoto no) they were watching, who, and I quote: "is small down there" "I'm big!".

Meanwhile another young French player was hitting on other female player and perhaps even, it did seem like it at times, while first French player was away, his teammate's girfriend also! But of course it's possible that it was all fun and games!

Li Sun likes to smoke. Outside hall and hotel.

Xiao Zhan seems very invested in Wang Manyu and (this is observation from tournament I went to last year also) he will quite obviously try to do some coaching from the stands when it's China v China matches and the coaches are not in the corner. I specifically remember this in match against Chen Meng.

It was much more apparent in Sweden which was smaller than in Germany where the stands were mostly packed, but CNT are much more organized or intent on cheering for their member than JNT when there is a match that they particularly care about.  

One clear example was the mixed match between XX,LSW v Ito,Mizutani, Olympic preview perhaps, where a number of the coaching staff and younger players turn up to support, while JNT members are much more reserved and hold back. You see that over and over to a lesser or larger extent in the CNT v JNT matches. 

If it really makes a difference? Who knows but CNT do win the support battle most of the time, even if it seems Ito to her credit has some momentum with European fans. 

Not like the European male players though, who get lots of support.

Well, this is probably too long already (and yup could also have been way shorter) even if I'm pretty sure I've forgotten to bring up plenty of stuff that I saw.

Will do more if I remember!


Edited by MartinCho29 - 10/20/2019 at 3:24pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote tom Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/20/2019 at 6:58pm
interesting -but all seem normal to me
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote kumn812 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/21/2019 at 9:44pm
thanks for information
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skynet Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/22/2019 at 4:58pm
Originally posted by MartinCho29 MartinCho29 wrote:


Maybe too gossipy, so I don't want to name names, but one male French player who is dating a female player from another NT, did enjoy bragging about his big **** to his gf at the expense of the noisy Japanese player (not Harimoto no) they were watching, who, and I quote: "is small down there" "I'm big!".



Let me guess, you're talking about Enzo and Bruna...Big smile
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote igorponger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/22/2019 at 5:07pm
Did you get an opportunity to see them boosting their rubbers with some illegal stuff ??

Thanks.

Edited by igorponger - 10/22/2019 at 6:22pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Matt Pimple Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/22/2019 at 5:19pm
Originally posted by igorponger igorponger wrote:

Did you get an opportunity to see they boosting their rubbers with some illegal stuff ??
Yes they always do it at the breakfast table!
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MartinCho29 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/22/2019 at 6:46pm
Originally posted by Skynet Skynet wrote:

Originally posted by MartinCho29 MartinCho29 wrote:


Maybe too gossipy, so I don't want to name names, but one male French player who is dating a female player from another NT, did enjoy bragging about his big **** to his gf at the expense of the noisy Japanese player (not Harimoto no) they were watching, who, and I quote: "is small down there" "I'm big!".



Let me guess, you're talking about Enzo and Bruna...Big smile

Well.... no comment!Wink

Maybe I shouldn't have posted that part and I would also like to replace the word bragging with joking and to my defense this player wasn't exactly discreet about it and I think at least a handful of people nearby witnessed and could hear the fun and games. No harm done I hope!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MartinCho29 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/22/2019 at 6:50pm
Originally posted by Matt Pimple Matt Pimple wrote:

Originally posted by igorponger igorponger wrote:

Did you get an opportunity to see they boosting their rubbers with some illegal stuff ??
Yes they always do it at the breakfast table!

Hehe, exactly!

No, from memory the only thing I saw that maybe or maybe not in any way relate to something like that was Kristian Karlsson meeting some people in the hotel lobby, in my mind Butterfly people, because they handed him a Butterfly bag with content that he looked looked down and inspected, some hours before his match later that day. 

And I guess, MAYBE (and I know original point was jokingly comment), some of the constant traffic from young CNT members running errands, unknown deliveries, between people in playing hall and people in training hall. But whatever it was that they're doing there it's not something that seemed very secret and once in training hall probably not hidden I imagine.




Edited by MartinCho29 - 10/22/2019 at 6:59pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote MartinCho29 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/22/2019 at 7:43pm
Btw does anyone know what this  (Chinese?) song is or know a enough Chinese to maybe assist identify it:

https://streamable.com/dkxas (played here during WCQ - LGY post Mcdonalds)

In Sweden they played it a lot and I regret not just asking one of the Chinese fans what it was (they seemed to know it) but I guess that I thought one of the song recognition apps could do the trick once I got home. They could not!


Edited by MartinCho29 - 10/22/2019 at 7:46pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pingpungpeng Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/22/2019 at 7:50pm
 


Edited by pingpungpeng - 10/23/2019 at 5:14pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Kolev Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10/23/2019 at 4:24pm
Very fresh and entertaining to read  but most of all different than the usual stuff around gere. You've got a gift for writing. Thanks
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