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sl8

(15,379 posts)
Wed Jul 10, 2024, 05:38 AM Jul 10

'I play with happiness': the table tennis star making her Olympic debut at 58

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/article/2024/jul/10/i-play-with-happiness-the-table-tennis-star-making-her-olympic-debut-at-58

‘I play with happiness’: the table tennis star making her Olympic debut at 58

Zhiying Zeng thought her Olympic dream was over after she quit China’s table tennis team in 1986. Now, 38 years later, she will compete at Paris 2024

Charis McGowan
Wed 10 Jul 2024 04.00 EDT

Zhiying Zeng isn’t fussed about travelling to Portugal’s world-class table tennis training facility, the Mirandela Center, to prepare for Paris alongside her Olympic cohorts. “I’d prefer to train here,” she says, gesturing to her surroundings in a Santiago de Chile sports complex. The table tennis hall is in the basement, and subject to tremors from the team sports thundering around above.

Zeng trains here Monday to Friday, three hours a day. She would like to do more but she has an excuse as she contemplates her Olympic debut: she will turn 58 just before the Games start in Paris later this month. “When you’re young, nothing hurts,” she says with a smile. “Now, if I play too much I get shoulder ache.”

Zeng’s reluctance to train in Portugal comes from a love of her home for 35 years, Chile, where she can stay close to her husband and sons. Her Spanish is peppered with local slang, and she frequently jokes with the Chilean self-deprecating sense of humour.

Her Olympic dream began when she was on a professional youth team in 1970s China. It wasn’t until this May that she achieved her goal by winning a series of tournaments and finishing in the top eight in the Americas region, securing her spot in Paris.



[Youtube World Table Tennis]

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