Foreigners benefit from nation's table tennis expertise

By Lin Shujuan in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-24 07:42
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Former Olympic and world champion Zhang Yining coaches students at Shanghai University of Sport's China Table Tennis College. GAO ERQIANG/CHINA DAILY

Shanghai college at the forefront of coaching efforts

For the past five years, Geoffrey Loi has been living his dream of being coached by his sports idol.

Loi, 23, a keen table tennis player from Papua New Guinea, has been under the watchful eye of Olympic and world champion Zhang Yining at Shanghai University of Sport's China Table Tennis College, or CTTC.

Jointly established by China's General Administration of Sport and the Shanghai Municipal Government in 2010, the CTTC is the only sports college in the world to focus on table tennis by emphasizing training, teaching and scientific research.

In November 2018, the college set up a training center in Papua New Guinea. To mark its establishment, Grand Slam winner Zhang and world champion Shi Zhihao visited the center to coach local players. During the visit, Loi, a player on the Papua New Guinea national team, had his first in-person meeting with Zhang.

Loi, who started to play table tennis as an 8-year-old in 2008, when Zhang was in her prime sweeping gold medals at the Beijing Olympics, said he grew up watching videos of Zhang and her national teammates playing the sport.

"I liked the way she played, and was inspired by her skills and technique. Everything she did was just wonderful," he said.

Loi added that he was so nervous during his first encounter with Zhang, that he struggled to show how he played. Zhang recalls Loi being shy on the occasion, but she saw that he had a passion for table tennis and was eager to improve his game.

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