Beijing, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 18th Dec, 2020 ) :Chinese pensioner Ren Qian’s passion for table tennis keeps him playing outside all year round, even in the depths of Beijing‘s brutally cold winters.
The 73-year-old has been coming to Qingfeng Park in the city’s east with his wife for the past two years, in a bid to stay fit.
“When I was in school, you could see students play table tennis almost everywhere,” he remembers.
“We had ping-pong school teams, and almost all the schools held ping-pong competitions every year — that’s why many people in my age play very well.” His own interest was piqued in 1959 when, 10 years after the founding of communist China, Rong Guotuan became the country’s first world champion not just in table tennis, but in any sport.
“That’s how it became popular,” he said.
The park’s 10 public tables are usually packed from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.
People come bundled up against the cold in hats and gloves, wearing face masks because of the ever-present threat of the coronavirus — but as they heat up, bouncing around the court, the layers gradually start coming off.
It’s a scene replicated in parks across the city.
Anyone can play here without booking, but must bring their own bats and balls.
Some even come on their own to practise, hitting balls repeatedly over the net — by the end, dozens lie scattered on the ground.
Most of the players are older men but there are women too, also usually retirees. For many, ping-pong harks back to their childhood and is a way to remain active even as they enter late life.
Ren and his wife live nearby and play for about an hour each day.
“So for the Chinese, we are very proud and delighted to play ping-pong.”