Ping pong in China
When China's paramount table-tennis player won her second consecutive Olympic gold medal at a heart-stopping single closing last summer, Deng Yaping understood just what to say.
A Mao button pinned on her uniform, Deng said she owed her five-game victory to membership from the Chinese Communist Party."In China, the Communist Party leads everything and I am very honored to become a member. It stimulated my drama," Deng, 23, said in a news conference in Atlanta. She added that her victory was particularly sweet because it came against a former Chinese national team member who defected to Taiwan, something she'd never do."I am a Chinese athlete. China educated me. I need to stay in China.
"In the People's Republic of China, politics, patriotism and Ping Pong are inextricably linked. Truly, some of the nation's most defining moments have involved table tennis, from Zhuang Zedong's inspirational success at the1961 world championships held in Beijing to the ground-breaking trip of the United States staff here in 1971, nearing the word"Ping Pong diplomacy," into the outpouring of national rage over the victory at the latest Asian Games by a former Chinese world champion representing Japan. There's been the catastrophe, too -- particularly during the devastating Cultural Revolution when dining table tennis has been banned for many decades, leading players were persecuted, some committed suicide and Zhuang ended up under house arrest for following the despised Gang of Four. Read What Is The Official/Standard Size Of A Ping Pong Table
"When you speak about Ping Pong in China, you need to link it with politics and history," said Zhuang, the country's first great table-tennis hero and the only man to win three successive world singles titles in today's era. The formula has clearly worked. Rarely has a country achieved such dominance in a single sport over such a long time as China has in table tennis. Since China entered its first world championship in 1959, Chinese gamers have won 70 of their 133 names up for grabs, including a clean sweep of all seven men's and women's titles last year. There are thought to be more than 100 million players from the country and hundreds of world-class competitors. Often, the toughest matches China's top players confront are those to decide precious places on the national group, instead of against players from other nations. Surely, if hockey defines Canada, table tennis clarifies China. When its players shed, there is exactly the exact same nation agonizing Canadians undergo after failures in hockey. And, similar to the abuse heaped on hockey star Brett Hull for choosing to play for the United States rather than Canada, Chinese fans have been smoldering for two years within the success from ChireKoyama of Japan in the Asian Games against Deng.
Back in 1987, under the name He Zhili, Koyama won the world women's title playing for her homeland, China. However she defected toJapan following a bitter dispute with her trainers, and no one in China has cautioned her."She is a traitor in our eyes," said Chinese sports reporter Yang Binyuan. "Whenever she plays with any of our players, there will remain nationalist feelings. The situation is very insulting to Chinese people."Yang said there's enormous pressure on Chinese players. "If you win, you are a fanatic. If you lose, you're nothing. That is our national game. It's very important to us. So many men and women care about it."Nevertheless before the Communists came to power in 1949, the sport was confined to a few cities along the southern coast, and noone was remotely close to world caliber. Politics proved to be the spark plug. In these dark days of the Cold War, nearly every foreign nation and international body continued to regard rival Taiwan as the legitimate government of China, isolating the mainland out of the majority of the world.
The International Table Tennis Federation was among the couple to change its own post-1949 Chinese membership into the People'sRepublic. Because of this, China's leaders told that the masses: we shall play table tennis."This was the only way the country could compete in anything at the world level," recalled Li Furong, vice-chairman of the Chinese table Tennis Association and a former good player. "Our authorities attached great importance to Ping Pong and spent plenty ofmoney to popularize it. "As a developing nation, it was also very economical and cheap for us. You needed very simple equipment."Chinese fast took to the game. "There wasn't any country in the world like China," Zhuang said. "We had a huge mass base, and allof the leaders affirmed the match. They played with it themselves. Mao Tsetung, Chou Enlai, Hua Guofeng... I performed all ofthem, except Mao. "The nation's pivotal table-tennis moment arrived in 1961 when Zhuang won the world singles crown before more than 10,000 rabid,home-town spectators at the Beijing Workers' Stadium, the first time China had played host to the world championships.
It was a period once the country was struggling with natural disasters, a murderous famine brought on by Mao's Great Leap Forward,and the sudden recall of thousands of industry specialists from the Soviet Union. Zhuang's competition in the final has been Li Furong after both had vanquished favorite Japanese gamers at the semi-finals. "TheJapanese had contempt for us," Li said. "They thought we did not have a chance. Afterward, we heard their trainer beat among theplayers for shedding."It was amazing. Countless people in the stadium cheered every ball. We also won the team championship for the first time. All this really excited the Chinese men and women. It inspired the country at a very hard time.
"Zhuang was subsequently 21. "We had a spiritual atomic weapon, and that I was just like a toddler tiger, afraid of nothing. MaoTsetung watched my matches on television. Later, they told me he kept saying: 'Please win, Mr. Zhuang". Employing both forehand and backhand in a pioneering style of power strike, Zhuang repeated his Beijing success in 1963 and 1965. Subsequently, the grim curtain of Mao's Cultural Revolution fell over the match, targeted at terrorist Crimson Guards as part of their hysterical effort to inflict ultrapure Maoism. Between 1966 and 1970, table tennis has been illegal, its leading players accused of bourgeois revisionism for the sin of trying to win. Some were driven to suicide."It was not just a tragedy for the Chinese people, however, it was also a disaster for Chinese sport," Zhuang said. "That which was fierce class struggle. It had been hard for sports people to get used to this. Read what is the size of a ping pong table PingpongStart for details
"The persecution ended in 1971. That year, Chinese players returned to the world championships held in Japan. There, on directions from Mao, they fraternized with the U.S. team and encouraged them to China. After years of Chinese lashing of the United States as running-dog imperialists, it was the launch of a historic rapprochement that brought President Richard Nixon to China in 1972. But the Cultural Revolution Wasn't yet through with Zhuang. He became a favorite of Mao's wife, the dreaded Jiang Qing and ringleader of the Gang of Four who lasted to terrorize China. At the time, ordinary folks whispered: "Zhuang Zedong is afraid of nothing but Madame Mao's midnight call."Zhuang was named to the Central Committee of the Communist Party and sports ministry in 1975, persecuting those who did not toe the Maoist line. However, If the Gang of Four dropped from power shortly after Mao's death the next year, therefore did Zhuang.
He spent 21/2 years under house arrest and several years after that coaching in impoverished Shanxi province before being permitted to come back to Beijing. Nowadays, Zhuang coaches dining table tennis in the Children's Palace. Looking back, Zhuang readily admitted his mistakes, although he did not go into detail."I made political errors by abiding by the Gang of Four. My talent was in Ping Pong, not being a minister. I had no talent there,"he explained."
It has to be said the Cultural Revolution was a tragedy for China. It was a mistake made by the Communist Party and Mao Tsetung.But let the past be the past. I really don't want to speak about politics" However, at 56, Zhuang hasn't lost much of his old bravado. "Everybody over 40 in China understands me. My name is a symbol of success in their thoughts," he announced. "When I won in 1961, everybody in China went crazy. The assault I used then was the most innovative in the world. Now, everybody uses it, but they are all just following my ability."
Why does China produce so many table-tennis winners? Partly, it's because China has far more players compared to other countries, and the Communist system describes possibly elite players early for top-flight training at special sports colleges. However, LiFurong said there are other explanations."In Ping Pong, size and strength do not matter," he said. "Chinese men and women aren't as forceful as others, however they'revery flexible and they are extremely quick. "And you will find specific Chinese techniques," he added mysteriously. He declined toelaborate. Regardless of China's dominance, however, governments are worried. The popularity of other sports is increasing in China, especially soccer and basketball. Table tennis is no longer in a class alone.
And growing prize money brings Chinese players abroad. "Players all used to eat government rice, but there's a market economy now," lamented one sports recently. "It may not be possible for one country to completely dominate a sport for so long "Still, at the Beijing Shichahai sports college, the heaps of youthful table-tennis players that exercise up to six hours a day,bolstering their emerging skills, talk of nothing but one day succeeding Deng Yaping or men's champ Kong Linghui as No. 1 in the entire world. And to not earn money.
Looking barely old enough to rely on, 11-year-old Man Yuan stated she likes table tennis because she likes to triumph. "My dream is to become world champion, to win credit to your motherland." Read more how to set up a ping pong table PingpongStart
A discussion forum for JFreeChart (a 2D chart library for the Java platform).
1 post • Page 1 of 1