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Chinese Table Tennis Hero Inspires in DSS

October, 2015
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wab-liu-guoliang-15Passion is the most important part of achieving your dreams. That’s the message China’s top table tennis player and coach, Liu Guoliang, delivered to an audience at Western Academy of Beijing (WAB) on October 13th, as part of the school’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

Liu is well known for being the first Chinese table tennis player to earn the Grand Slam title by winning the World Cup, World Championships and Olympic gold medal. Since he retired from playing in 2003, Liu led China to individual gold and team gold medal sweeps at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

More than 120 people came to WAB’s Founders’ Theatre for the presentation. Andy Lou and Angela Liu, Grade 10 students and leaders of WAB’s table tennis team, emceed the event and translated for the diverse audience.

“Liu is a Chinese national hero who has received international recognition for his hard work, dedication and inspirational achievements,” said Kun Jiao, WAB’s Advancement Officer and event organizer. “We were honored to have this fantastic opportunity for the members of our community to connect with and learn from such an influential person.”

David Roberts also took part in the conversation. Now a lawyer and WAB parent, David played table tennis at the collegiate level and fondly remembered his time studying in China, watching Liu come up as a young player.

David asked Coach Liu about a “low point” in Chinese table tennis history, when the team had lost three World Championships in a row. Liu thanked David for bringing up the topic and explained the challenges he and the team had to overcome. There were new techniques and grips coming to the forefront of the game, and as a young player Liu was asked to change his style and learn these new methods.

He was faced with the decision to remain playing in an outdated style or to evolve his game using newly developed strategies. He not only made the decision to challenge himself by taking up this new style and becoming successful, but he also used the change as a catalyst to further innovate hitting techniques.

“That was one of the most memorable turning points in my career,” he said.

Liu spoke about the characteristics and skills he mastered to achieve his level of success, and how those attributes can extend to areas outside of table tennis and other sports.

“I think the most important things are to be persistent and passionate,” Liu told the audience. “But it’s passion that’s most important, because that comes from your heart and motivates you to do the things you love.”

As the conversation came to a close, Andy asked Coach Liu to play. The pair hit balls back and forth: Liu demonstrating his innovative techniques and Andy doing his best to keep up with the gold medalist and trying some crafty moves of his own. That sparked a series of players – ranging from young elementary students to grandfathers – coming to the stage to try their skills against the champion.

Liu’s visit on Tuesday was the first event in WAB’s Distinguished Speaker Series of the 2015-16 school year, with many more exciting events on the horizon, all of which are open to the public free of charge. 

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