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Minus the Tie, Hu Keeps His Eye on the Ball
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Emerging table tennis athlete Chiu Chung-hei dreams of playing gold medalist Kong Linghui. But Kong never got to play the president.


"Great." was what Chiu said about his impromptu table tennis match with visiting President Hu Jintao, who arrived in Hong Kong on Friday to attend celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of Hong Kong's return to its motherland.


At 3:55 PM, Hu, who was casually dressed rather than his usual deep-color formal attire, walked into the training center at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, accompanied by Chief Executive Donald Tsang.


This was his first stop on his three-day visit program, where he was met by the President of the Sports Federation and Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China, Timothy Fok and the Chairman of the Hong Kong Sports Institute Eric Li.


Hu watched demonstrations of wheel-chair fencing and table tennis training, and then played table tennis with the 13-year-old athlete Chiu.


"I feel very excited and the president's skills are beyond my expectations," said Chiu, who has trained and played table tennis for eight years. What made Chiu more excited was that Hu gave him a present - a signed paddle.


Speaking to the elite athletes who were undergoing training for the 2008 Olympic Games, and also to 2006 Asian Games medalists, Hu said he had long cared about the development of Hong Kong's sport and knows it has some outstanding athletes.


"Beijing will hold the Olympic Games next year, and you will get a chance to strive for fame and glory for Hong Kong and the country," Hu said.


"I hope you can achieve a good result through hard work and scientific training."


Before leaving, Hu gave each athlete souvenirs of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.


After his visit to the sports institute, Hu went to Wu Kai Sha Youth Village, where an experience-sharing session was held for some 100 youngsters who had taken part in an exchange program to Beijing in April.


Hu was invited to visit exhibition panels containing pictures taken by the youngsters during their Beijing trip.


The president told the young people that the future belonged to them.


"If you don't do your best now, you will regret it later in life," he said.


(China Daily June 30, 2007)

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