Olympic Ping Pong Player Ma Long’s Secret Weapon? Alcohol
Don’t challenge Ma Long to a game of beer pong—he might literally drink you under the ping pong table. Because not only is Ma one of the top ranked ping pong players in the world, but he has also added drinking to his training regime.
“For Ma Long, two things are most important, one is that when the pressure gets very high, to make him go to a bar and drink some alcohol.” Ma’s coach, Liu Guoliang, said in an interview with AFP. The second important thing? Distraction with casual chit-chat.
Ping pong is no joke in China. Since it was first introduced as an Olympic event during the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, the country has been a dominant force in the sport, winning gold medal after gold medal. In 2012, Ma failed to make the Olympic team—possibly due to nerves. But this year, thanks to some barstool therapy, Ma succeeded and will go on to face the world’s most skilled players in Rio, including his fellow teammate, gold medalist Zhang Jike.
Will the stress get to him? Or will Ma master the delicate art of moderate drinking while sporting, as athletes like pro bowlers and billiards players have done? We’ll be watching, baijiu in hand.