Friday, December 14, 2007

San Francisco Journal, China Ping Pong Team Visit 1972

Ping Pong Past and Present

San Francisco Journal April 19, 1972 p.3 v.1 no.9

by Alan Feia and Christine Wilson

article excerpt

“…The International Table Tennis Feder­ation, founded in Germany in 1926, initia­ted organized international competi­tion. The field was dominated by Euro­pean players until 1952 when the men’s singles champions were from Asia, the titles having been won by Japan’s H. Sato one year and China’s Jung Kuo-tuan. Two years later the championships were held­ in Peking and the Chinese won the covet­ed Swaythling Cup (the Davis Cup of table tennis). That year everyone agreed, playing on their home court had nothing to do with China winning the championship. They were - and are 13 years later, the best players in the world.


“Mass participation tells the story. China has 3.8 million registered tournament players, compared with 2,500 in the U.S. An additional 200 million Chinese play with varying frequency.

‘Every school in China has ping pong,’ reported Arthur Barran, president of the Canadian Table Tennis Association. ‘In Canada and the U.S., we play in the basement. In China, it’s a serious sport’

Considered by Mao Tse-tung to be the people’s exercise, ping pong is pursued by children, grown-ups and elders with a vigor that is typically Chinese. A Swiss pathologist, cardiologist and ping pong nut, Dr. Sorko J. Dolinar, recently de­cided that ‘purely from a medical point of view, table tennis is the most energy-­taxing sport, even more so than marathon races.’ In a serious game the players move with the rapidity of the ball, and some have been known to lose two pounds in a five-game set. It is a game where size, income, ethnicity, circum­stance have little to do with a player’s opportunities.

‘It’s a relatively easy game for the average person,’ Mrs. Connie Sweeris, a member of the U.S. team, commented. ‘You can keep in shape by playing just once or twice a week and you don’t have to be huge. I’m just 4 feet 11 and I manage.’

“But . . . as Arthur Barran reminds us, ‘top table tennis is a tough sport, not a pattycake thing in the basement recrea­tion room. These people are superb athletes.’

“And though the trip is long, the food, foreign, and the language difficult, the Chinese ping pong players will mange quite well. With their nods and smiles and an occasional greeting in English they were proving themselves to be superb diplomats as well. “

No comments: