Chinese table tennis stars excite Dubai at ping pong festival
Updated: 2015-01-07 09:42
Chinese table tennis players Ding Ning, back, and Liu Shiwen, front, play some tricks to entertain fans in Dubai Mall January 6, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]
DUBAI - The world's number one and two table tennis men's single players Xu Xin and Ma Long, Olympic gold medalist Zhang Jike and the three highest ranked female players, Ding Ning, Liu Shiwen and Li Xiaoxia were present here on Tuesday to mark the Dubai ping pong festival.
The Dubai-sponsored Chinese national table tennis team were the star attraction, hosting master classes and meeting fans, during the one-day event at Dubai ice rink in the world's biggest shopping center by footfall, the Dubai Mall.
Staged just two days before the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Team Cup kicks off in Dubai which will be held from Jan. 8 to Jan. 11, the China team was joined by players of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and coaches to share tips and perform trick shots with the general public.
Liu Shiwen and Xu Xin won last year's ITTF GAC group 2013 world tour finals in the women's and men's challenge, respectively, which were held in January 2014 in Dubai.
Table tennis aficionados had the chance to get a free master class with the Chinese and Emirati athletes, exchange tips and collected rackets signed by the Chinese top stars.
"China has a strong affinity with table tennis and it is always encouraging to see our passion for the sport being shared in other countries around the world," said Liu Xiaonong, vice president of the Chinese Table Tennis Association. "This is key to the sport's development and the popularity of the Ping Pong Dubai Festival is a clear indicator of the growth of table tennis in Dubai."
The UAE's female number one Majd Albalooshi said "Ping Pong Dubai is a community initiative at heart and it is really positive to see the emirate's ongoing effort to promote the sport as an inclusive, fun and easy way to keep active."
Ping Pong Dubai is a non-profit venture between the UAE Table Tennis Association, Dubai Sports Council, and Falcon and Associates, which facilitated Dubai's sponsorship of the Chinese National Table Tennis Team until 2017.
Falcon and Associates Will Oscroft, Falcon and Associates' director of marketing and communications, said "Dubai is committed to forging even closer ties with China across the economic and cultural arenas and sport is a fantastic way of achieving this.