“Table Tennis Genius” from Jinhua
Two gold medals, achieving nine consecutive wins in five days. The 14-year-old Chen Yuanyu defeated opponents from Japan and South Korea and confirmed his supremacy at the 2019 Asian Junior & Cadet Championships. Some are speculating about whether he will be the future of Chinese table tennis. Following his success at the U15 tournament, where he won both the team and single competitions and reached number one in the world ranking for U15 athletes, Chen Yuanyu appeared on a number of major media platforms. What most people have ignored is that this 2005-born champion is from Jinhua.
After the Asian Junior & Cadet Championships held in Ulaanbaatar, Chen Yuanyu went to Croatia on September 14 to attend the ITTF Junior & Cadet Open; on October 23, he will go to Poland to take part in the ITTF World Cadet Challenge.
On September 18, Chen's parents were interviewed. Below are some of their comments on his road to the national team:
“Our son's dream is underway. We would have never imagined that one day he would have become a professional player. We just thought that playing table tennis was good for vision and would help his balance and coordination.”
At the age of five and a half, Chen Yuanyu began to play table tennis even though he could not reach the table. At 8 years old, he moved to Dongyang and trained under a good coach at No. 2 Primary School. After three months of training, the coach in Dongyang suggested that Chen enter the China Table Tennis College at the Shanghai Sports School. Two years later, he moved to Ningbo to study art and train with Tang Zhixian, coach of major national table tennis players including Xu Xin and Chen Qi.
This September, after being recruited by the Jiangsu Team in 2015, Chen Yuanyu became the youngest member of the National Table Tennis Team.
Chen Yuanyu's mother, Ai Huizhen, has accompanied her son to most of his domestic competitions. She claims that the road of a professional athlete presents a lot of hardships and is a test of the perseverance of both children and parents.
“After he moved to Shanghai, we rented a house next to his school and had him stay with his uncle. As we were unsure whether or not he could succeed in professional sports, we decided that his education could not be put aside, so he had to spend a half-day studying and a half-day training. We persevered with this kind of life for several years until two years ago when it was decided that Yuanyu would take a professional path.”
Being an athlete is not only about exceptionally laborious physical training but also about tedious technical training. Despite the repetitiveness of the technical training, Chen puts 100% of his effort into pondering and summing up his condition. As a result of his persistence, his movements and techniques are nearly technically perfect.
His coach Tang Zhixian said that in the past few years, Chen has participated in many competitions and has achieved good results, “He's very talented. When he plays, his mind is very clear, and he takes initiative. But he's usually very humble; after he wins, he's never too proud.”
At the latest Asian Junior & Cadet Championships, Chen Yuanyu scored two points in the men's team finals and won the men's single championship, winning 4:0 in the final. After these wins, he summed up his tournament by saying, “You step off the podium and everything starts from scratch; it's time to go back to training and focusing on the Open in Croatia where I hope to arrive in good condition. I will not allow myself to be placated by the Asian U15.” (By Wu Junfei – Jinhua Daily, translated by Marco Lovisetto, edited by Xiamara Hohman)