Legend Liu elected new president of table tennis association

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Liu Guoliang (left), vice-president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association (CTTA) and former head coach of China's national table tennis team, is seen at the 2018 ITTF Women's World Cup in Chengdu of Southwest China September 29, 2018. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's table tennis legend Liu Guoliang was elected as new president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association on Saturday in Beijing.

Liu, the world's most decorated table tennis coach, was named head of a preparatory group for the general election of the Chinese Table Tennis Association in September, and since then has headed the association during the transitional period.

After guiding China's all-conquering men's squad and then the entire national program since 2003, Liu was removed from his head coach position in June 2017 amid speculation over his involvement in then women's coach Kong Linghui's discipline violation over a gambling debt.

Kong was also Liu's former doubles partner.

The 42-year-old Liu, a double gold medalist at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, was later named the 19th vice-president of the CTTA in an adjustment interpreted by the General Administration of Sport of China as a move to decentralize decision-making powers and streamline team management.

Without Liu, the decline of Team China, underlined by a gold-less effort by the men's squad at the 2017 World Cup, stirred hot debate.

The CTTA's general election for new leadership is a result of former chairman Cai Zhenhua's departure from the sports sector earlier this month to reportedly join the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.

Under China's traditional State-run sports system,  the nation's sports ministry (GASC) assigned government officials to run various associations, even though some appointees had no related background in their assigned fields.

Since Gou Zhongwen took office as Sports Minister in 2016, several significant management reforms have been initiated, including Yao Ming's stewardship of the Chinese Basketball Association, the appointment of Olympic champion coach Lang Ping as vice president of the Chinese Volleyball Association, and short-track speed skating national coach Li Yan's role as chairwoman of the Chinese Skating Association.

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