Chinese professional table tennis players Xu Xin and Zhu Linfeng need medals.
Both of them have earned some sort of tangible commendation -- a rarity reserved for only the best in an age of digital achievement badges and verified checks on profiles -- because of an amazing point they played out in their recent Super League match.
Lasting for about 35 seconds, Xin and Linfeng tried to play the other into a battle of attrition, but neither relented, hitting over 20 shots each.
There was no "wearing" the other player down -- just shots on shots on shots, each somehow returned with equal amounts of intensity and purpose. Xin and Linfeng combined for a 42-shot rally, which, as exasperating as it was to watch, was probably mind-crushing for the players themselves to endure. When you're THAT deep in a rally, like hell are you going to be the one on the losing end of it.
Linfeng (in blue) appeared to be on the offensive for most of the point, but Xin (wearing red) kept returning his shots from all sorts of different angles and positions.
Xin ultimately won the point after a shot from Linfeng went long. Neither competitor collapsed in relief, which is in some ways, more impressive than the point itself. How did Linfeng not explode after his repeated slams ended up in vain? How was Xin able to stand after so much squatting and shimmying? Even after a rally like that, Xin and Linfeng maintained a steely focus.
In victory, all Xin could do was raise his fist and crack a wry smile.
Score one for the human spirit.
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