It is one of the steepest rises in German sport: within a year, Dang Qiu became European champion and top 10 player in table tennis. At the Team World Championships in Chengdu he is the German number one. It takes place in the country where his parents come from.
His mother is a former Chinese international who switched to the table tennis Bundesliga in 1989. His father is a former Chinese international who went the same way back then and also became a successful coach in Germany and Japan. More than 30 years later, her son Dang Qiu is making one of the steepest rises in German table tennis. From a perspective player behind Dimitrij Ovtcharov and Timo Boll, he worked his way up to the German number one for the Team World Championships starting on Friday in just one year. The fact that this tournament also takes place in China is the next special story in this already special year of the new European champion.
"It all feels a bit surreal," said the 25-year-old. "Regardless of the fact that my parents were born there, it is something very special for me to play a World Cup in China. Because China is the ultimate in table tennis - even more than Germany ever was in football. We enjoy a different status there than any other country in the world."
Dang Qiu was born in Nürtingen, went to school there and graduated from high school. His father Qiu Jianxin coached neighboring club TTC Frickenhausen to two German championships, two cup wins and one Eurocup triumph. The family stayed in Württemberg when the father took over the Japanese national team in 2016. He now runs his own academy in the country.
Within a year, Dang won the European Championship title in Munich, the German championship with Borussia Düsseldorf and his first tournament in the worldwide WTT series. In the world rankings, he climbed past record European champion Boll and Olympic bronze medalist Ovtcharov to ninth place. Because the two by far best German players of this millennium are missing after long injury breaks, Dang Qiu also takes over their leadership role at his first team World Cup. "I've worked hard for years, but that it's so steep now?" he said, as if he couldn't believe it himself.
Jörg Roßkopf is not surprised by this development. "Dang made perfect use of the Corona period by training a lot and very hard," said the national coach. "He always wants to train, he's always hot. He's very meticulous in his work and very well trained tactically."
But just like most other stories in German table tennis, this one cannot be told and understood without Boll and Ovtcharov. On the one hand: "The level of training is of course great when you meet players like Timo and Dima every day, who have been among the best in the world for years," explained Dang Qiu. "You can learn a lot from seeing how hard they train, how disciplined they are, what successes they have had and how hard they continue to train after success."
On the other hand, if you get a chance at this level, you should take it. There are players whose knees still tremble against Boll and Ovtcharov even if both are not in full possession of their strength. But Dang Qiu first defeated Ovtcharov in the final of the WTT tournament in Lima (4:3) and then Boll in the quarterfinals of the European Championship (4:0). That's exactly what Jörg Roßkopf means when he says: "If you want to play well at the absolute highlight, i.e. the 2024 Olympics, you have to take responsibility now. And no matter how friendly and obliging Dang is in his dealings: he puts in the end also through what he wants. And that's what matters a lot in sport."
The World Cup in China is now the next career step. The big catch: the strict Corona rules. The players are not allowed to leave the hotel and the venue. And if you want to travel to Chengdu as a spectator, you first have to go into quarantine there. For Dang Qiu's family, this means that neither his parents will be there live, nor his relatives living in China. The same applies to his teammate Fanbo Meng and the German internationals Han Ying and Shan Xiaona. "My father still watches every game I play, no matter what time it is," said Dang Qiu. The tips then just come via WhatsApp.