According to a report in a Swedish newspaper (Daily News?), Persson is reconsidering his decision to retire from international competition after the coming Worlds at Osaka, and may continue to play for the national team. 34-year-old Persson announced on several occasions last year that he would retire from the national team after the Osaka Worlds. He now said that those decision were made without "deep and thorough thinking" on his part. He will now make his decision based on his performance in Osaka.
The Swedish Olympic Committee recently asked Persson whether he should be on the list of 2004 Olympics athletes, and he has not declined the invitaiton. Persson might have changed his mind about retirement, because he wants to win an Olympic medal. He has played internationally for 20 years, and has won the Worlds singles title in 1991, as well as the team titles 4 times, but has not medalled in the Olympics.
(Chung's notes: this article was written by the chief reporter at cn-tt.com, a web-site sponsored by Xu Shaofa's companies.)
There were some confusion about the history of the Avalox brand, so we asked ex-national team head-coach Xu Shaofa who was directly involved in the creation of the Avalox brand. He said that prior to the 1980's, almost no player on the national team used imported blades. Then in the mid-1980's, after the relaxation of the economic policies, many players and coaches went overseas to play or to coach. They brought back foreign blades, and the Swedish ones in particular were considered the best. A lot of the players liked the Swedish blades, but back then there were not a lot of foreign currencies available to buy imported goods. At that time, a coach from the Swedish national team became the vice-president of Stiga, and heard about the Chinese interests. He knew Xu well, so he proposed creating a new brand that specialized in making blades for the Chinese national team; this would be great advertising for the new brand. So, after the Chinese had agreed to the idea, three companies, from Sweden, Japan, and Malaysia, respectively, pooled their resources to form a new company to make "Avalox" products. The Avalox blades are made in Sweden. Most Chinese national team players liked using 7-ply blades in the beginning, because they felt that those blades require less power. But after their mid-to-distant table techniques have improved, they felt that the 7-ply blades could not allow them to play at the highest level. Many have now swiitched to the 5-ply blades. The early Chinese users of Avalox include players like Chen Zhibin and Ma Wenge. Wang Nan is still using an Avalox blade. In the Chinese market, the Avalox blades come with either a metal tag or no metal tag. The ones with the metal tag are designed for the Japanese consumer market. That is because the JTTAA will only allow Japanese players to use brands that have been registered with the JTTAA. So the Avalox blades for the Japanese market have the tags and also the Nittaku logos, and the ones for the Chinese market do not have either. But both types are made in Sweden, and they have the same quality.
(Chung's PS: This also explains why sometimes there is the Yasaka logo on a Stiga blade, like the one that Liu Guoliang was using.)
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