Thursday 28 May 2015

Inside the Life of a Chinese National Team Player: Exclusive Interview with Guo Yan

Few words could explain how much of an honour this interview was, or how humble and open Guo Yan was in an interview which spanned over 2 hours. I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with her about her career in the Chinese National Team and most of all try and begin to understand the pressure and feelings of being involved in the best team in the world. Please read and enjoy and be sure to subscribe to my e-newsletter HERE

Name: Guo Yan
Date of Birth: June 24 1982
Nation Represented: China
Highest World Ranking: 1

Major Victories: 2006 World Cup Champion, 2010 World Cup Champion, 3 time World Team Champion with China, 2005 and 2011 Asian Cup Champion, 2008 and 2009 Pro Tour Grand Finals Champion.

Former World Number 1 Guo Yan

Equipment Used:
FH Rubber: Hurricane 3
BH Rubber: BTY Tenergy05 FX
Blade: BTY Viscaria FL

How old were you when you first became a member of the Chinese National Team? What feeling did you have at that moment?

When I was 15 years old I made the team for the first time, it was a moment of excitement and glory to have a chance to make it into the Chinese National Team.

At that time did you ever think it would be possible for you to become the top ranked player in the world?

There was no thoughts of being the best or being world champion, it was just very exciting to enter table tennis in the highest institution and the highest level of learning, it was very exciting.

How much more intense and difficult is the training at national level compared to training within the provincial team?

The level of the national team training is very high, it is much higher than the provincial level training. You really have to keep the pace of the training with the team so I had to work very hard.

How long was it before you became one of the stronger members of the national team?

I officially entered the national youth team in 1998 at X years old, I made the main national team in 2001. One year after entering the national team I had already entered the main layer of the team.

When you were in the National Team, what was your greatest love and alternately, what was your biggest fear?

As a top player, the greatest love is when I experienced a very fierce and cruel competition, the final victory of that moment. That kind of joy cannot be replaced by anything.

The thing I feared the most was in a contest going to meet a very powerful opponent, the night before the game there can be a strong fear of failure. There is a lot of worry and fear in the heart and it can cause a feeling of what can only be described as inner torment.

Guo Yan with teammate Guo Yue after team victory
at World Team Cup

Is the fear of failure something which drives players in China? The competition to excel at national level between players must be incredibly intense. How does it feel to be under so much pressure?

Table Tennis in China is the strongest in the world, there are many masterful players in China, competition is very normal, everybody adapts to that level of competition. It is only then through such competition that we can stand out from other players and become the best and earn the right to be the best in the world.

That kind of pressure is as if you are in the face of a fight. You fight for your country's national game, for your honour. This time, passion of heart, we are under a lot of pressure. There is lots to worry about, there is panic and there is fear. But we must remind ourselves that no matter how difficult the front is, as long as you believe you can be the best then you can win the game.

You became world number 1 in 2010 and won 2 world cup titles in 2006 and 2010. Were these in your mind the highlights of your career?

Yes, this is the highlight of my career. My proudest moment was in the World Cup in Xinjiang in 2006 where I defeated the best woman in my opinion, Zhang Yining. I was the best player in the World for the first time.

After you retired from the national team it must have been very emotional. How did it feel for the first short period of time after your retirement to no longer be a part of the team which had been a huge part of your life?

After retirement I feel life now. My line of work is still with table tennis so I am still very happy. I can be more understanding of what table tennis has given me. I gained many friends in China and overseas and I hope to contact them in person again and hope to promote table tennis so everyone will know it is really a great sport. So now I set up my own club and hope I can make many friends who also love table tennis.

Where is your club located and when did you open it? Where can people find more information about it?

I have a public page on WeChat called Young Shine Table Tennis and also one Facebook. (Follow the LINK and be sure to support her there.)

We launched during the summer training camp. We hope foreign hobby table tennis friends can come to China and together we can feel the warmth which table tennis brings us and fight for competitive spirit. I have a strong coaching staff here with me.

Guo Yan wins the 2011 China Harmony Open

A Few Fun Questions

Favourite Food?
I love to eat a lot of things, I like bread and cakes.

Favourite Singer? 

Favourite Travel Destination? 
The United States, France and the Maldives

How does it feel to have more free time now after the team? 
Time is still busy but there is less pressure now.

Thank you again to Guo Yan, one of this generations table tennis champions and a real lover of the sport. Hope you all enjoyed!

Want to read more great interviews with other former World Champions, Cup Winners and Number 1's? Click for MORE INTERVIEWS.


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