Ping Pong Diplomacy and China’s rise to world desk tennis superpower are the topic of a three-part BBC Radio 4 sequence offered by Matthew Syed.
Half certainly one of Syed’s Sideways programme aired final week, with half two as a consequence of be broadcast on Wednesday at 4pm, repeated at 9am on Thursday and once more subsequent Monday morning simply after midnight.
Half three follows the identical sample from 4pm on Wednesday subsequent week.
The entire sequence is accessible instantly on BBC Sounds – click on right here to go to the Sideways web page.
The sequence is an enchanting perception into how China used the facility of desk tennis to enhance its stature within the geo-political world.
Episode one options the story of Rong Guotuan, who was China’s first world champion in any sport, the internet hosting of the 1961 World Championships and the rise of three-time champion Zhuang Zedong, who’s interviewed by Syed. Amongst these to additionally seem are former Engand coach Jia Yi Liu.
In episode two, English worldwide Trevor Taylor tells about his function in Ping Pong Diplomacy, wherein American Glenn Cowan inadvertently boarded the Chinese language crew bus on the 1971 World Championships.
The incident was crucial in re-launching Chinese language sport on to the world stage within the Nineteen Seventies after a interval wherein the Chinese language authorities had largely sidelined desk tennis – and should not have been as spontaneous as some consider.
And episode three tells how China responded to the rise of European superstars equivalent to Jan-Ove Waldner and moulded themselves into the juggernaut of right this moment.
What was Ping Pong Diplomacy?
In 1971, Ping Pong Diplomacy fostered a brand new understanding between east and west as English gamers had been among the many first in a technology to go to China.
The invitation stemmed from American participant Glenn Cowan who, on the 1971 World Championships, inadvertently boarded the bus carrying the Chinese language crew.
It set in movement a practice of occasions which ended up with the US crew being invited to go to China – an invite which was additionally prolonged to England, Canada and Nigeria.
The English gamers who made the journey had been Jill Parker, Pauline Piddock, Alan Hydes, Trevor Taylor and Tony Clayton, plus assist employees. They entered China on April 10, 1971.
It was a visit which was reciprocated later within the yr as a Chinese language crew visited these shores, when matches had been held in Wales and Scotland in addition to England, and there was a go to to 10 Downing Road and an viewers with PM Edward Heath among the many cultural programme.
Ping Pong Diplomacy stays a key landmark in world desk tennis historical past – and its affect was felt in wider society across the globe and continues to be being felt in our sport. You’ll be able to learn extra about this by clicking right here.