How Table Tennis Changed The World, 50 Years On
Sumaira FH 2 months ago Sun 11th April 2021 | 11:50 AM
Shanghai, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 11th Apr, 2021 ) :It was 50 years ago but Zhang Xielin still remembers vividly how a shaggy-haired American table tennis player stepped onto the Chinese team's bus, a chance encounter which would shape history.
"We were on the bus and were talking and laughing," Zhang, now 80, told AFP.
"But when we realised that an American had come onto the bus, we fell silent." The Chinese triple world champion Zhuang Zedong eventually came forward and famously broke the ice, giving Cowan a silk embroidery as a souvenir from China.
Zhang, a doubles world champion and later China's coach, recalled: "Mr. Zhuang understood that there was a difference between the American people and the American government, and that we should be nice to American people, so he took the initiative to chat with Glenn." Photographers captured Zhuang and a 19-year-old Cowan shaking hands and smiling.
In 1979 formal relations were established between the two countries.
- 'Compete peacefully' - Yao Zhenxu played Cowan, who died in 2004, during the Americans' ground-breaking trip.
Yao still remembers the score, he won 21-12, 21-14, and says that Cowan thanked him afterwards for "a serious game".
The American team were vastly inferior to the Chinese, so the hosts sometimes let their visitors win points in the spirit of sportsmanship and goodwill.
Now 74, Yao says that it was only afterwards that he realised that he had played a part in something historic.
But the anniversary comes at a time when relations between Washington and Beijing have deteriorated markedly over a number of issues, notably trade, the fate of China's Uyghur minority and a clampdown in Hong Kong.
"We hope that we can agree to disagree and keep friendly relations.
"Don't be afraid of competition, we can compete peacefully."