A former Olympic table tennis star from Taiwan made a racket during the national competition, chastising her daughter’s Orthodox Jewish doubles partner as “ugly” and disparaging her conservative style of dress.
Fei Ming Tong verbally slammed 20-year-old Estee Ackerman ahead of doubles competition earlier this month in Texas, dropping F-bombs, calling her a “piece of shit” and saying her modest outfit with long sleeves and her skirt was “unprofessional” and “disgusting,” Ackerman and her father, Glenn, told The Post.
“It was discrimination,” Glenn Ackerman said, noting that both families were from Long Island and that Tong had once trained Estee and knew she was Jewish.
The tirade took place at the Fort Worth Convention Center with Tong shouting “Nobody’s wearing that!” Estée Ackerman called back.
While performing, Ackerman, a senior at Stern College for Women in Manhattan, wears shirts with shooting sleeves covering her elbows, as well as skirts with leggings to respect her religion’s rules of modesty.
“It’s not like my dress is an obstacle to my level of competition. That’s definitely not the case,” said Ackerman, who has been playing ping pong since he was 8 years old and who, at 11, beat tennis champion Rafael Nadal in the match.
She said the trash talk left her in tears.
“It was extremely painful,” she said.
His father, who was nearby and overheard the rant, said the only attire banned at the tournament was white as it is the same color as the ball.
After her rant, Tong pulled her daughter, Lucy Chen, from the doubles event before the quarterfinal match, which left Ackerman without a partner and eliminated. She was able to compete in other events and won a silver medal in the hardbat contest, which is played with an old-school style paddle.
Her overall grade improved during the competition, proving her dress had nothing to do with her abilities, her father said.
Virginia Sung, CEO of USA Table Tennis, said the incident with Tong was under investigation and the organization could not comment.
Ackerman, who does not play on the Sabbath, missed his chance at the 2020 Tokyo Games because the trials were on Saturday. USA Table Tennis would not change the schedule.
Tong, who competed at the Sydney Games in 2000, finishing ninth, told the Post that Ackerman was one of her “best and favourite” students and that she didn’t think there was a problem between them of them.
“I wish him all the best for his great future,” she said.