Deng Yaping

------Ping-pong legend eyes new challenges 07-26-2004 17:17

Deng Yaping is regarded as one of the greatest table tennis players in the world. She has won some 18 world championships and Olympic gold medals in her glittering athletic career. But now she is doing something different: promoting sport in China.

Deng Yaping won her first world championship in 1989 in the 40th World Table Tennis Championship women's doubles. She was only 16 years old. 2 years later, she became the singles champion and her innocent and confident smile let the table tennis world know that a star was born.

Deng's rapid rise to the top of the table tennis world drew worldwide attention, including the eye of Juan Antonio Samaranch, the president of International Olympic Committee who watched her progress with interest. He promised to attend the award ceremony if she won at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. She made it, and Mr. Samaranch kept his word.

1994 saw a rare setback in her career when she lost the single's gold medal to Japan's Koyama Chire at the 12th Asian Games. Despite this setback, she soon recovered her form and won 3 events at the 1995 World Table Tennis Championship and 2 golds in the Atlanta Olympics. Once again, Mr. Samaranch watched her to collect her medals. She once again rewrote the record books when she became the first table tennis player in history to clinch both the women's singles and doubles golds at 2 consecutive Olympic Games.

Deng Yaping retired in 1997 after winning that year's singles and doubles world titles. In just 8 years, she won 14 world champions and 4 Olympic gold medals, securing a place in China's sports history book. She was crowned with the Laureus Award in 2002 for her excellent sporting performance.

Deng Yaping's achievements are not just in the world of table tennis. She surprised many upon retirement by deciding to study English in college. She went to Tsinghua University first and furthered her study at the University of Cambridge, getting a doctorate degree. Later she became a member of two different IOC committees to keep her relationship with the Olympics going. In 2003, she came back to China to join the 2008 Beijing Olympics Organizing Committee. She now wants to help Beijing host the best-ever Olympics in history.

She said, "Foreign experts cannot be objective all the time in commenting on China and doing research in Chinese sports or women. I feel I have the responsibility to tell the West and the whole world real information about all that I know and have experienced. "

Though her life is full and varied, she says she could never forget table tennis.

She also said, "I have always been confident that the Chinese table tennis team will dominate the world."

Just as she hopes China will dominate the table tennis world, she herself is the dominating role model for table tennis fans with her incredible successes both on and off the court.


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