Tragic 'spy' Who Sparked China's Table Tennis Domination
Muhammad Rameez 15 days ago Wed 21st July 2021 | 10:50 AM
Shanghai, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 21st Jul, 2021 ) :When China begin their quest to extend their Olympic table tennis domination at the Tokyo Games, they will be following a path forged by tragic trailblazer Rong Guotuan.
"His victory was a national sensation and greatly lifted the national spirit," Ma Long, the triple Olympic gold medallist, told state media of Rong's breakthrough title at the 1959 world table tennis championships in Germany.
"When I was a child, I heard the story of Rong Guotuan's battle.
"My heart was surging and it inspired me to fight for victory without fear of strong players." The 32-year-old Ma was speaking just ahead of the Tokyo Games, which were postponed by a year because of the coronavirus but will finally begin on July 23.
Rong's success set the stage for their domination and he has been credited with sparking China's enthusiasm for the sport.
At a park in Beijing, where pensioners and others play outdoors throughout the year -- even in freezing winter temperatures -- those alive at the time still remember Rong's landmark victory.
The exact circumstances of his downfall remain a mystery, as with many victims of a period when false or trumped-up accusations were levelled against countless people.
According to several books on the subject, he was tortured by Mao's Red Guards.
Chinese media are coy about his death in 1968, but Rong is widely believed to have hanged himself from a tree, less than a decade after putting China on the sporting map. Some think he may have been murdered.
Whatever the truth, Bai Guosheng was a student at a sports institute in the northeastern city of Tianjin in the early 1980s and remembers how teachers sat them down to watch video clips of Rong's victory.
"Everybody was amazed that he could play so beautifully and tenaciously." Bai says that Rong's victory was hugely significant not just because it was the start of what would eventually be a Chinese table tennis dynasty, but because of where the country was in 1959.
"At that time there was an urgent need for such a star to stand up."