China's Grand Slam winning paddler Ding Ning retires

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 7, 2021
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Ding Ning returns the ball during the women's singles Top 4-seed battle against Sun Yingsha of China at World Table Tennis (WTT) Macao 2020 Tournament in Macao, Nov. 26, 2020. (Xinhua/Cheong Kam Ka)

Chinese table tennis star Ding Ning announced her retirement on Monday and will pursue her master's degree in the prestigious Peking University.

"I'm 'student Ning' of the Peking University now. Hopefully, I can continue to contribute to the sports cause and everybody. My career as a table tennis player has curtained down today, and I will work hard for new dreams and challenge new possibilities in the future," the 21-time world champion wrote on the Twitter-like platform of Weibo.

Ding also posted three photos representing her different stages: starting to play table tennis at the age of five, holding the gold medal at the Rio Olympic Games award ceremony and registering at the Peking University with a letter of admission in hand.

"I cherish every moment with table tennis over the past 26 years: from taking up the sport at five years old to pursuing my dreams in Beijing at 10, representing China in international competitions, achieving Grand Slam at the Olympics, bearing China's flag at the Rio Olympic Games closing ceremony," the Chinese women's team captain recalled.

"Table tennis has taught me, whether at high peak or in low ebb, to always have a brave heart as there is no easy way in chasing dreams. No one is invincible, and you have to face up to failures and difficulties...Sporting spirit is far more than win or lose," she wrote, expressing her gratitude to the team, coaches, teammates, family and fans.

Ding received good wishes and encouragement from members of the Chinese team.

"Ding had a successful career while undergoing some setbacks as well. Her resistance against these setbacks has helped her overcome difficulties and realize her dreams. This is her biggest characteristic on the court," said Liu Guoliang, president of the Chinese table tennis association (CTTA) and a prominent figure of the sport.

"Off the court, she is quite amicable. She always smiles, and her nice personality has touched everyone around her," added Liu.

Liu added that, as the women's team captain, Ding has set a good example for young players.

"She can pass on the energy of table tennis and showcase her value, not only within the team or sports but also in Chinese sports and the whole society. She has that potential," said Liu.

"I hope she can bring the Chinese table tennis team's tradition and her positive character to her new studying life and continue to show her persistence as she did as a player," said Li Sun, head coach of the Chinese women's team.

"Hopefully she can dig out greater potential in more aspects other than table tennis and sports," commented another Grand Slam winner Zhang Yining.

Ding took up table tennis in 1996, before being recruited to the Chinese national junior team in 2003 and then the senior team in 2005.

She completed a grand slam of titles in 2016 after winning the Rio Olympics gold medal. She was appointed the captain of the Chinese women's team in February 2017.

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