An appetite for success, it is an essential ingredient for any personality in any discipline.
In the sport of table tennis, is there a better example than Ma Long?
Whatever ranking may read, he is the player to whom China looks at the forthcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Play starts in the Metropolitan Gymnasium on Saturday 24th July.
Perhaps a mixed doubles title on the international stage has never come his way but I doubt that fact causes him great heartache.
Quite simply his role is to set the example and provide the guiding hand for younger colleagues; that fact was clearly illustrated at the Liebherr 2019 World Championships in Budapest.
He retained the men’s singles title, arguably he was not at his very best, just a few degrees below his performance in two years earlier in Düsseldorf when he beat Fan Zhendong in a final that took table tennis to new heights.
Everyone is aware of his powerful forehand, but can you name anyone who is so safe from the backhand? To beat Ma Long, any adversary has to raise his game five degrees or more; some more like hundred!
In Budapest Ma Long was thoroughly efficient, not a hole in his armoury; he displayed to all concerned that if you possess such qualities, you can succeed. He is the complete player and did he not have a role model. Was there ever a player more complete than Kong Linghui?
Moreover, in the men’s doubles, he shepherded the then 18 year old Wang Chuqin to gold, the pair commencing matters as the no.18 seeds and never being extended the full distance en route to gold.
Ma Long has achieved everything there nothing left to be conquered.
He falls into the same category as in the tennis world do the names of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
They have sufficient funds to quit the tennis arena yesterday, put their feet up and live in Beverly Hills. Yet they keep playing, they keep competing; it is in their make-up, it is in their genes.
I suspect Ma Long is not short of a few Chinese Yuan, yet he keeps competing, he keeps fighting; he maybe doesn’t even realise but he relishes in the gladiatorial nature of the amphitheatre.
Now, in Tokyo can he respond again, can he achieve what has never previously been achieved, win men’s singles gold at consecutive Olympic Games?
Editor: Ian Marshall