Monday 1 August 2011

Entertaining feedback from NZ's World Uni Games Team

I sent questions to each member of our 8 strong World University Games team. I asked them one serious and relevant question about their preparation and expectations for the games, and one fun question just to keep it casual. The team travel to Shenzhen, China for the games, the second largest event to the Olympics. They leave NZ on the 10th of August, we wish them the best of luck in their competition!

The Mens Team: Phillip Xiao, Ryan (Bin Bin) Zhu, Myles Collins, Aaron Gong
The Womens Team: Jenny Hung, Natalie Paterson, Armindeep Singh, Jessica Macaskill
Coaches/Team Managers: Li Chunli, Murray Finch


This is your second World University Games representing New Zealand at Table Tennis, what experience have you had and how will it help you succeed in Shenzhen?

Well I know what to expect in terms of Table tennis standard, last time i spent a large amount of time on the side line watching as i was clearly the number four player. From watching I learnt a lot especially mental toughness, so I hope that will help me in china, also last time I was quite overwelmed by the whole event and probably didnt worry so much about my tt performances, it felt more like a learning expereince, but now I am more expereinced and feel like i need to preform really well :)

If you were lost in the jungle what one piece of table tennis gear would you want with you to help you survive and how would you use it?
A table which I could slowly burn as fire wood for warmth


This is, like all but one of the rest of your team, your first World University Games. As the event gets closer how are you feeling about the trip all round?
I am amazingly excited for the trip coming up! This is the 2nd biggest multisport event after the Olympics, so if I don't happen to make it to the Olympics, then this is it! I'm really looking forward to the NZ team atmosphere and all sports supporting one another. I guess I am a tad nervous as it is coming up so quickly, but I'm sure the others will be feeling the same :) I'm just looking forward to getting there and turning those nerves into fighting NZ spirit and determination!

Have you been trying to learn any Mandarin prior to your trip?

Lol good question! My intention was to learn key phrases prior to going away. That didn't quite happen! Karen Li taught us lots of different phrases while on our last trip and I can only remember a few! I figure that we are going away with others that speak Mandarin, so I think we will be all good! Also, we have to do something on the 12 hour flight over there!


You're the top ranked male player in New Zealand, essentially you are leading the team, how do you feel your level of skill will stack up at World Uni Games?

I'm really looking forward to playing in my first World University Games. From what I've heard the standard is pretty high and many of my friends from when I was a junior that I have played against from around the world will also be participating and they were top juniors in my age group. I'm confident that I will be able to compete and hopefully get some good wins. It is always difficult when you're chucked into the deep end because although many of the players are labelled are university students, most if not all of the better players are professionals that you would see playing on the Pro Tour or at the World Championships.

If you could choose one place in the world to change your identity and start a brand new life, where would it be?

I would love to be a movie star in China where all the girls love me! haha

NZ Number 1 Phillip Xiao 

You have been a top player in NZ from a very young age and have worked very hard throughout, how does it feel to achieve selection to the World Uni Games?

I feel great to be selected for the 2011 World University Games in Shenzhen. It is a very prestigious competition and the second largest sporting event in the world to the Olympics. I've been competing internationally since I was 13 but I've never competed in a competition of this scale. China has a reputation for showing great extravagance when hosting big international events and I’m sure this event is no exception. I am very much looking forward to the experience.

Which is better, table tennis or texas holdem?

Hahah, I am indeed a big fan of texas holdem and poker games in general. luckily for me table tennis and poker are not mutually exclusive and I've found time to do both. However if I had to choose one over the other, it would be table tennis. In table tennis you can get more of a sweat going and, more importantly, there are more girls in table tennis than poker.

Auckland's Ryan Zhu taking on Mitchell Barker (NH) at Interclub
Photo Courtesy of Sarah Her-Lee


Tell us what your training schedule has been like this year as a new member of the National Mens Training Squad? How will this help you achieve results in Shenzhen?
My training this year has been harder and more intense as there has been more expectation for greater quality training as I'm in the National squad. I have done several training sessions at 5.30am as well as some late night sessions so that my body is use to performing at tornaments whether it is morning, midday or night it is very important to have enough sleep to perform in training and at tournaments. To be able to produce quality in the training hall constantly is vital so that when I compete in Shenzhen I will be able to reproduce this quality and more in match play.

Will you be doing a haka at the World University Games?

hmmmm...well the first time I did a haka with the Cadet NZ Team was actually in China when I was 15, we were infront of a few hundred people, it didn't go too well alot of people laughed at us and it was quite possibly the most embarrasing moment in my life, but I was still proud! I haven't thought about doing one but I'm open to the possibility.


This has been a major goal of your's since moving to University in Waikato, what's it like to finally achieve that goal and how have you been preparing for the competition?
It feels pretty amazing to set a long-term goal and get to achieve it makes all the time and effort seem very worthwhile . I really look forward to the experience of the trip and can’t wait, it should be amazing! My preparation for the trip has involved the usual squad trainings(3-4 times week), as well as additional training sessions organised with members of the squad, as well as one on one sessions with one of Waikato's coaches Tom Liu.

On a scale of 1-5 how much will you miss driving round in your Suzuki Swift while you are away?

Oh it’s definitely a 5!! It’s heartbreaking to think for 2 whole weeks “speed-racer” won’t be getting to drag any kitted out Skylines on Auckland motorway, or even get out and about for a run around town, poor “speedy”.

Jenny Hung:

Being the more experienced member of your team, do you feel there is much more expectation on you to lead the team in Shenzhen? What are your goals for the tournament?

We don't have much pressure because all the teams there are really good. Being the underdogs, if we play well I think we will be able to cause some upsets, especially in the begining of the comp (wen every1s still jetlagged lol). My goal for the some matches!!! I dont need any placings....jst good wins

Considering you've probably now watched all the new releases at the cinema what will you be doing in your spare time while in Shenzhen?

Gonna take the girls SHOPPING ofcourse...its their first time in china so we HAVE to go shopping.

Might go to theme parks if we have time too.

Aaron Gong:

You've been playing the sport for a while now and recently have really achieved some great results and selections and a different attitude to playing, tell us, where did the sudden motivation come from?

I always had the same attitude, its just i have been really lucky this year. I always try very hard to do my best because i know im not the most talented player.

If you were in a table tennis stadium and got attacked which would you choose as your weapon? 

A table tennis ball, a table tennis net (no posts) or a sheet of table tennis rubber.

lol........i would use my fist, why would I use the other stuff? they would obviously have no effect. :P

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