World champions, visitors celebrate opening of table tennis museum

About 1,500 people visited the International Table Tennis Federation Museum and Chinese Table Tennis Museum on Saturday with world champions of table tennis.
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The opening ceremony of the International Table Tennis Federation Museum and Chinese Table Tennis Museum on Saturday.

About 1,500 people visited the International Table Tennis Federation Museum and Chinese Table Tennis Museum on Saturday, celebrating the opening of the world-class facility with world champions of table tennis and some other sports.

At the opening ceremony, Thomas Weikert, president of the International Table Tennis Federation, said he was pleased to see the museum welcoming visitors from all over the world in a new appearance and wished it could be a new window for promoting table tennis culture and inheriting table tennis spirit.

“We, as always, will continue to give maximum support, including future world exhibitions, ITTF documentation center and ITTF liaison center, making it more comprehensive and professional,” he said. “Meanwhile, the ITTF will donate items and documents to the museum after each world championship and world cup.”

Weng Tiehui, vice mayor of Shanghai, also said that the local government will make the museum a new landmark and distinctive attraction in Shanghai.

The building, near the World Expo Museum in Huangpu District, is a new home for the International Table Tennis Federation Museum that was first constructed in 2003 in Lausanne of Switzerland.

Due to limited visitors to the museum in Lausanne and China’s contributions to the development of table tennis, the federation decided in 2014 to move the museum to Shanghai, where the government decided to build it and the planned China Table Tennis Museum in one building.

The three-story building now has more than 11,000 items of exhibits to show the development of the sport in the world and in China respectively.

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A visitor dressed in fancy gown plays ping pong with Chinese world champion Zhang Yining.

Zhang Yining, a Chinese world champion of table tennis, said she was thrilled to see the exhibition with both historical items and new technologies.

“The historic part is very informative. For example, here we can see the first rackets that was made with strings like tennis rackets, which I have never seen before,” she said. “And the modern technologies demonstrate the sport very well. I think we should bring more young people into the museum.”

The museum opened to the public from 1:30pm, but many local residents waited outside one to two hours earlier and some even brought their children and grandchildren along.

The operators opened the door about one hour earlier to shelter them from the hot weather.

Shen Yu, 74, said the visit helped him to better know the sport he has been loving since childhood.

“I love playing table tennis, but knew little about its history,” he said. “The evolution from strung rackets to wooden ones and to sponge and rubber-covered bats are very interesting to me.”

He also said the Chinese exhibition part refreshed his memory on his young age.

“The pictures and sculptures in 1950s and 1960s reminded me the days when I played the game so happily as it was popular nationwide,” he said. “I still remember that my friends and I listened to radio together during world championships and Olympic Games.”

Yang Zhenhong, 67, brought his grandson Yang Yang to the museum as both of them are table tennis lovers and they played it on their dinning table at home frequently. He said he wished the boy could be inspired by the Chinese champions and improve his skills.

Many people queued up in front of interactive devices in the museum, learning table tennis techniques and playing against virtual images of famous professional athletes.

Zhang Yining from China and Jorgen Persson, world champions of table tennis, play with two visitors dresses up in traditional Chinese costumes.

The museum operators also organized a special event to enable nine visitors, who are amateur players, to play table tennis with two real world champions -- Zhang Yining from China and Jorgen Persson from Switzerland.

To make the game more entertaining and to show the history of the sport, some of the visitors wore clothes of different historical periods, such as fancy dress for noble British ladies in 1890s, robe for government officials in Qing Dynasty in China and qipao worn by women at the Republic of China.

Their rackets also changed accordingly, such as strung rackets at the very beginning and goatskin pat later. To increase difficulty for the professional players, they were also asked to use hat and pan as racket.

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Twelve-year-old Noah Trede plays table tennis with Swedish ping pong player Jorgen Persson who wears a mask.

The lucky visitors include 12-year-old Noah Trede, who is in Shanghai with her father, a German sinologist, on a three-month exchange program. They arrived one month and a half ago.

Noah said he had learned playing table tennis for four years in Germany and was being coached in the museum by a teacher at the Shanghai University of Sport that supervises the museum.

He got the information about the opening of the museum and the special interactive event from the teacher and registered for it immediately.

On Saturday, he played two matches with Persson, who used a navy cap as racket, and won the game.

“It’s funny to play because his racket was a hat,” he said. “I think the museum is a good place and every room here is beautiful.”

The museum will invite more world champions and table tennis experts to play games with visitors or deliver lectures for the public.



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