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Deng Yaping: strength is the only key to respect

2009-05-18 09:53:00 GAGOC

May 18,2009 - At a height of just 1.5 metres, Deng Yaping was not born to be a sports champion. However, she not only gained 18 world titles and became a legend in the history of table tennis, but also after retirement from the sport, made a successful transition to a PhD student at the University of Cambridge and commissioner of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). How did she make it?

"Strength is the only key to respect," said Deng, the keynote speaker at the Asian Games Forum in Guangzhou yesterday. "After years of playing, studying and working, I've realised that I can only prove myself and win respect from others with my strength."

The Zhengzhou-born table tennis player was initially underestimated in both the Henan provincial team and Chinese national team because of her height. But Deng's potential quickly became evident as she beat one champion after another.

"Luckily, it was competitive sport, in which it's very clear who comes first and who comes second," said Deng. "I made more efforts than other players and gradually proved myself with my achievements." After winning a number of provincial championships, she became a national champion at 13 and the youngest world champion three years later.

With four Olympic gold medals, she made the decision to retire from professional sport at the age of 24 and became a student at Tsinghua University in Beijing. "At that time, I thought," she told the students of Sun Yat-sen University where the Asian Games Forum was held. "How am I going to compete with people like you when I enter society?"

On the other hand, she was elected as a commissioner of the IOC's Athletes Commission. Thus studying English became her priority. From an underdog who knew no more than the 26 letters in English, she spent 11 years in three top universities in China and the UK, gaining a bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University, a master's degree from the University of Nottingham and a PhD degree from the University of Cambridge. In the meantime, she was actively involved in Beijing's efforts to bid for the 2008 Olympic Games and to prepare for it, while serving on several commissions of the IOC.

Talking about her secrets to success, she emphasised four mentalities - determination, perseverance, confidence and a take-it-easy attitude.

Deng Yaping was the fifth keynote speaker invited to the Asian Games Forum, which is run by the Guangzhou Asian Games Organising Committee with the assistance of Sun Yat-sen University.

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