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World Beater: Liu Shiwen celebrates second stint on top of the world

20130928_LiuShiwenHomeWorld No. 1 LIU SHIWEN, 22, talked to SportAsia after the table tennis superstar won her third Women’s World Cup, which followed her return to the top of a sport she was born to play. However, one major ambition remains.


By SportAsia


September 28, 2013: Liu Shiwen’s crushing victory over younger compatriot Wu Yang in the final of the recent Women’s World Cup in Japan underlined the Chinese star’s return to the top of the tables tennis ladder.


Liu, 22, won her third World Cup in late September.

Liu, 22, won her third World Cup in September. Photos: ITTF.

Having returned to World No. 1 in the September rankings released earlier in the month, the 22-year-old Liu started the World Cup as favourite and lived up to her billing with a dominant display in Kobe.


It was in 2009 that the Liaoning-born Liu won her first World Cup in Guangzhou, during a year in which she announced herself as a bona fide star, winning three titles on the Pro Tour and reaching the final of the Asian Cup and the last four of the Asian Championships.


Following a stunning 2009, she first became World No. 1 in January 2010, when she was still only 18, and held onto the top spot for nine months. During the year, she won the Asian Cup and Kuwait Open, and again helped China win a second successive World Team Cup.


In 2011, Liu won the Qatar Open and Pro Tour Grand Final, while last year she won the World Cup for a second time, in Huangshi, China, along with the Hungary Open – but missed out on the London Olympics.


After 18 months from February 2012 as World No. 2 or 3, Liu finally regained her No. 1 Ranking in September 2013, going on to underline her ‘second coming’ with a third World Cup title.


Interview with LIU SHIWEN

Liu in action at the 2013 Women's World Cup in Kobe, Japan.

Liu in action at the 2013 Women’s World Cup in Kobe, Japan.

You’ve won many major titles, but which do you think was your greatest achievement, the one you’re most proud of?

I’m happy with all the titles that I’ve won, including the three Women’s World Cup titles. However, as with all other athletes, my greatest dream is to go to the Olympics, which I haven’t yet.


How did it feel to return to World No. 1 in September after being ranked No. 2 and 3 for 18 months?

Personally I believe that my personal development and growth is more important than my world ranking. In the Chinese team, we’re not judged by world ranking alone, so that should also not be our sole priority.


How were you first introduced to table tennis in Liaoning? Did you play other sports or did you always focus on table tennis?

My mum was a former professional player and she introduced me to table tennis from the age of four. I was never involved with any other sports apart from table tennis.


At what age did you first start to realise you were good enough to become a full-time player, a professional?

From the very start I’ve always aimed to be a professional full-time player. Also, because of my mum’s influence, she was very much my role model and I aspired to become a professional like her.


You were a star player in your early teens, so how did it feel when you first became No. 1 in January 2010, when you were still only 18? You obviously could handle the pressure as you stayed there for nine months.

Of course, I was very excited about it! I was young and it felt good to become World No. 1 for the first time. However, there was definitely the pressure that came along with it. Being World No. 1 also meant that I was always seeded first and the favourite to win.


How do you think you have changed as player since 2010?

My focus changed as I started to feel that self-improvement was more important than world ranking. I didn’t do as well the next year or so after that and my ranking dropped, but in the last couple of years I’ve been continuously improving and rebuilding myself.


How do you cope with the pressures of being a famous table tennis player, such as extra media attention?

I’m lucky that most journalists are very accommodating and respectful of the players, so I don’t feel any pressure in that sense. I also understand that the media is very important to the development of the sport and for the audience to get to know their favourite players.


20130928_LiuShiwen2aLIU SHIWEN

Sport: Table tennis

Country: China

Born: April 12, 1991; Liaoning, China

Height: 1.59 m

Weight: 54 kg


Selected achievements – singles:

World Championships – Runner-up 2013, semi-finals 2009, 2011

World Cup – winner 2009, 2012, 2013

Pro Tour winner (6) – 2009 Danish Open, 2009 China Open (Suzhou), 2009 China Open (Tianjin); 2010 Kuwait Open; 2011 Qatar Open; 2012 Hungary Open

Pro Tour Grand Final – winner 2011

Asian Championships – semi-finals 2009, 2012

Asian Cup – winner 2010, runner-up 2009


Selected achievements – doubles:

World Championships – quarter-finals 2007, 2009

Pro Tour winner (4): 2008 Korea Open; 2009 Danish Open, 2009 China Open (Tianjin); 2010 Qatar Open 2010; Runner-up (5): 2007 China Open (Nanjing); 2009 Qatar Open, 2009 China Open (Suzhou); 2010 Kuwait Open, 2010 China Open

Pro Tour Grand Finals – winner 2009

Asian Championships – winner 2005


Selected achievements – team:

World Championships – runner-up 2010

World Team Cup – winners 2009, 2010

Asian Championships – winners 2009


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