A full house of titles at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest, a success that pays great credit to the exceptionally high quality displayed by players from China, it is a scenario to which we have become accustomed.
It is now 40 years, virtually to the week, when China first accomplished the feat. At the 1981 World Championships staged from Tuesday 14th to Sunday 26th April in Novi Sad, they secured all seven titles, an era when team and individual events formed the schedule, not separate as in the modern era.
The team events commenced proceedings, the men’s competition attracting great attention; a major challenge faced China.
Safely through to the final, they faced Hungary, the country against whom they had experienced 5-1 defeat two years earlier in 1979 in Pyongyang in the title deciding contest. On that occasion the selection had been Guo Yuehua, Li Zhenshi and Lu Qiwei; in Novi Sad it was totally different, Cai Zhenhua, Shi Zhihao and Xie Saike completed the trio.
Xie Saike seen here at the 1983 World Championships
Conversely for Hungary there was no change, just as in Pyongyang, Gabor Gergely, Istvan Jonyer and Tibor Klampar formed the trio.
Notably, Guo Yuehua was omitted; in Pyongyang in the final he had been the player to post China’s one win; in the fourth match of the fixture, he beat Istvan Jonyer in the fourth match (17-21, 21-19, 21-19).
The success gained by Guo Yuehua was not to prove a pivotal moment; two years later, the performance of Xie Saike was critical, not once but twic.
After Shi Zhihao had lost to Istvan Jonyer (21-17, 23-21) and Cai Zhenhua had accounted for Tibor Klampar (12-16, 21-10), by the very narrowest of margins Xie Saike overcame Gabor Gergely (21-17, 22-24, 22-20) to give his team the lead. Immediately following Shi Zhihao was beaten by Tibor Klampar (13-21, 21-17, 21-1), the overall score line level again, Xie Saike returned to the fray. He accounted for Istvan Jonyer (17-15, 21-17).
In crucial situations Xie Saike had responded; it was somewhat fitting that he should seal the victory. After Cai Zhenhua had overcome Gabor Gergely (21-16, 14-21, 21-15), he beat Tibor Klampar (21-15, 16-21, 21-15) to seal the victory.
Title regained, for the Chinese women’s team it was title retained; the system of play for the women being five matches, four singles, doubles after the second singles, as opposed the men whose itinerary was nine singles.
In Pyongyang the selection for the final had been Ge Xinai, Zhang Deying and Zhang Li, a 3-1 win against the host nation trio of Pak Yung Sun, Hong Gil Son and Pak Yong Ok had been the verdict.
Two years later Zhang Deying was again on duty, this time lining up alongside Cao Yanhua and Qi Baoxiang; a 3-0 win was the outcome in the final when facing the Korea Republic duo of Hwang Nam, Lee Sooja.
Team success, the stage was now set for that to continue in the individual events.
Editor: Ian Marshall