Table tennis Grand-Slam winner Ma Long and volleyballer Zhu Ting were voted the Best Male and Female Athletes of the Year 2016 resepectively at the prestigious China’s Central Television (CCTV) Sports Awards gala here on Sunday evening.

The Best Coach award went to volleyball legend Lang Ping, the first person to win the Olympic gold medal in the event both as coach and player. Her disciples, the Chinese national women’s volleball team, captured the Best Team award. Both Lang Ping and the team have won the awards for three consecutive years.

The 29-year-old Ma won the men’s singles table tennis gold medal at the Rio Olympics, beating teammate Zhang Jike in the final, becoming the fifth Grand Slam male winner after Liu Guoliang, Kong Linghui, Zhang Jike of China and Jan-Ove Waldner of Sweden.

Nominated for the second straight year, Ma beat other four candidates, including Rio Olympics men’s 200-meter freestyle winner Sun Yang and badminton champion Chen Long, to claim his first Best Male Athlete award. He described the year of 2016 as “perfect” for him.

It was also Zhu’s second time to be nominated as the Best Female Athlete. The 22-year-old was the key player of the Chinese national team, and has been honoured the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the women’s volleyball tournament at the Rio Olympics.

Playing for Vakifbank Club in Turkey, Zhu didn’t attend the ceremony, but made up a short video for the audience.

“The year of 2016 was full of happiness and unforgettable for me. I wanted to say thanks to our coach, our team and our fans. I will be better in 2017,” Zhu said in the video.

The Chinese national diving team received two awards as Ren Qian, the women’s 10-meter platform winner at Rio Olympic Games was honoured the Best Rookie and his teammates Wu Minxia and Shi Tingmao got the Best Pairing award.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming, who lifted WBO flyweight world title in 2016, won the Best Non-Olympic Athlete award. Wheelchair fencer Rong Jing, who won three gold medals at 2016 Rio Paralympic Games, was named the Best Disabled Athlete. The Best Breakthrough award went to Gong Jinjie and Zhong Tianshi, who won China’s first cycling Olympic gold at the Rio Games.

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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