Looking back at the career of Tie Yana, unquestionably, 2002 was a milestone; it was a year when she had to make a major decision.
“At that time, I was studying at the East China University of Technology in Shanghai. I represented the Chinese University Team which participated in the 2001 World University Games in Beijing”, explained Tie Yana. “I managed to win three gold medals including women’s team with Zhang Yining and Niu Jianfeng, the mixed doubles with Wang Liqin and the women’s singles. I was then lucky to be invited by the Hong Kong Table Tennis Association to join their team.”
Illustrious company, in that tournament there were most notable names in action. Wang Liqin beat Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan in the men’s singles final, Liu Guozheng had to settle for bronze. In the women’s singles final Tie Yana overcame Niu Jianfeng having in the penultimate round accounted for Korea Republic’s Ryu Jihae. In the adjacent semi-final, Niu Jianfeng ended the hopes of a certain Zhang Yining.
The results suggest Tie Yana was more than worth a place in the Chinese line-up, but she never played for China and was never a member of the national team.
Nevertheless, born on Sunday 13th May 1979 in Henan province, the key factor is she did experience a Chinese table tennis education, there is no better.
“I was seven years old; at the time, the Zhengzhou City Sports School table tennis team was in my school, the coach directly selected team members from the school, and I was lucky to be selected”, explained Tie Yana. “Wang Yantong became my first coach, later I played for the Zhengzhou Sports School; I developed comprehensive techniques and a good feeling when in the field of play.”
A constructive schedule in place, Tie Yana, the fluent backhand a major attribute, she responded to the programme in the country that is the hotbed of the sport, the competition for places in teams at all levels intense, dedication essential.
“Table tennis is a national sport in China with vast numbers of participants; there are many talented and capable athletes; in college, every day after classes we had table tennis training for about three to four hours”, explained Tie Yana. “You must love the sport, be positive and be motivated if you want to keep winning.”
Playing days over, now resident in nearby Shenzhen but what of the future; just as when competing Tie Yana is very positive.
“For me I want to keep my involvement in table tennis”, she stressed. “Members of the Hong Kong table tennis team are now basically born in Hong Kong; in recent years, they have achieved excellent results and I am optimistic about their future prospects!”
In the era of Tie Yana, colleagues such as Lau Sui Fei, Lin Ling and Zhang Rui, honed their skills in China before crossing the border; now with the likes of Doo Hoi Kem, Lee Ho Ching and Minnie Soo Wai Yam at the forefront, times have changed.
They are all home grown, they have a role model, the splendid Tie Yana; Hong Kong’s most successful ever player.
Editor: Ian Marshall