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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Chinese TT players in 23 countries

China has swept all the gold medals in badminton and looks set to do the same in table tennis at London. However, that does not even begin to indicate the extent of Chinese dominance in these two disciplines.


The fact is that 55 of the 173 table tennis players in the Games are of Chinese descent and 45 of them were born in the country. From Lin Gui of Brazil to Ariel Hsing (US), Xia Lian Ni of Luxembourg to Bora Vang of Turkey, the Chinese are draped in the colours of 23 different countries.In badminton too, as many as 50 of the 172 shuttlers at London were either born in China or are of Chinese ancestry. Saina Nehwal played six matches; of them four were against players of Chinese descent. Lianne Tan represented Belgium while Jie Yao was in Dutch colours.Players of Chinese ancestry obviously include those representing China and Chinese Taipei, and it is perhaps not so surprising that a majority of those from Hong Kong and Singapore also were born in China.Malaysia is a less obvious candidate, but with a significant population of Chinese, it has often had players of that ethnicity in its ranks, the men’s top seed in London, Lee Chong Wei, being a prime example.But what do you make of the fact that the entire Australian women’s team consists of players born in China? One popular explanation is that competition for slots in the Chinese national squad is so intense that many top-notch players prefer to migrate to other nations and try their luck there.Australia’s Vivian Tan, for instance, was born and grew up in China and retired from table tennis in 1997. Her second life as a TT player began a good 10 years later in 2007, four years after she moved to Sydney. French women’s badminton player Pi Hongyang is a good example of extreme competition forcing a Chinese player to migrate.But perhaps excellence in table tennis and badminton is part of the Chinese cultural DNA. How else do you explain the fact that all three members of the US women’s TT team are of Chinese descent though none of them was born in China? Or that India’s own Jwala Gutta, who plays both women’s doubles and mixed doubles in badminton, is born of a Chinese mother?

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