Veteran paddler praised for beating top players at National Games


Hou Yingchao in action during the men’s group table tennis bronze medal match at the 14th National Games in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China on September 21, 2021. / CFP

Hou Yingchao in action during the men’s group table tennis bronze medal match at the 14th National Games in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, China on September 21, 2021. / CFP

Veteran table tennis player Hou Yingchao surprised players and audiences alike at the 14th National Games, beating several top players, including world number nine Liang Jingkun in the men’s team event for bronze on Tuesday.

The 41-year-old’s performance ultimately helped his Shaanxi team take 4th place.

Players and fans jokingly gave Hou the title of “quality inspector” of the national team after defeating Xu Xin, Wang Chuqin, Zhao Zihao and Liang Jingkun, all franchise players.

A member of the team from 1998 to 2013, Hou was previously national champion twice, in 2000 and again in 2019 when the Shaanxi Province team asked him to join. That year, Hou became the oldest men’s singles player in Chinese table tennis history to win national championships.

Although he did not win a medal in Xi’an, Hou won praise from many, including two-time Olympic gold medalist Ma Long who expressed his admiration after the men’s team semi-final, where he sealed the deal for the Beijing team against the Hou team. Shaanxi.

“I have a lot of respect for him because he’s capable of playing at such a high level at this age,” said Ma.

The Shaanxi team failed to win the bronze medal, but Hou did his best not only to compete, but also to enjoy the competition.

“I have deep feelings for table tennis. It has always been a part of my life, like something that lives in me,” said Hou.

(With contribution from Xinhua)


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