Chinese Athlete of the Century heads back to University of Nottingham

Monday, 07 October 2019

The Chinese table tennis legend and University of Nottingham alumna Dr Deng Yaping is back at her alma mater this week to meet aspiring sports stars of the future who are benefiting from a scholarship established in her name. 

Dr Deng Yaping, who was voted the Chinese Athlete of the Century after her retirement in 1997, graduated from Nottingham with an MRes in Contemporary Chinese Studies in 2002 before being awarded an honorary doctorate in 2013.  

However, her legacy at the University lives on through the Deng Yaping scholarship programme for talented young table tennis players from China and the first Deng Yaping scholar, Jenny Haoyu Liu went on to win in both the individual and team national university championships in 2017. 

Dr Deng’s achievements in the sport are unsurpassed, she is a true inspiration to table tennis players all around the world and particularly those who come to play at Nottingham. Hosting the Chinese Athlete of the Century is an honour and we will be working closely with Dr Deng over the coming days to explore new ways to further develop our table tennis programme.
Dan Tilley, Director of Sport at the University of Nottingham

Dr Deng follows the scholarship programme very closely and takes a keen interest in the development of the young sports men and women who are aiming to emulate her success in table tennis. She has a seat on the selection panel that assesses and shortlists candidates and oversaw a selection event in China last year to identify talent for the programme. 

During her visit to Nottingham she has met the current scholars Sining Zhang (MSc Management), Tianyuan Liu (MA International Commercial Law), Jenny Haoyu Liu (PhD Business) and Diruiqui Yang (MSc Human Resource Management) and explore the environment in which they are training, living and studying. 

She took part in a table tennis training session with the scholars on Tuesday October 8 at the University’s David Ross Sports Village on University Park campus, which features some of the best university sports facilities in the UK. 

Widely acclaimed as the greatest female table tennis player in history, Dr Deng was the top ranked woman in the world for eight consecutive years from 1991. A naturally attacking player of small stature, she won 18 individual and team titles at either Olympic or world level during her illustrious career. 

Having dreamed of becoming world champion from an early age, her breakthrough came in 1991 when aged just 16 years old she captured the World Women’s Doubles title in Dortmund, Germany. Dominating the sport for the next seven years, her four Olympic titles came from gold in the singles and doubles in Barcelona 1992, followed by retaining both titles in Atlanta 1996. 

Dr Deng is a Laureus World Sports Academy member and has stood on several International Olympic Committee commissions. Dr Deng sits on the Chinese Olympic Committee and was hugely influential in the promotion of the Beijing 2008 Games. 

As part of her visit to Nottingham, Dr Deng is meeting with British Olympian, Commonwealth Bronze medallist and University of Nottingham table tennis Head Coach Kelly Sibley to discuss the season ahead and better understand the support provided to athletes who are based at the David Ross Sports Village. 

The University of Nottingham has won six straight table tennis national titles and will be looking to secure a record seventh at BUCS Big Wednesday, to be held at the University on Wednesday 25 March 2020. 

During her time in Nottingham, Dr Deng is also meeting with various senior figures at the University including Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Shearer West and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Global Engagement Professor Robert Mokaya. 

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More information is available from Mark Bullock in University of Nottingham Sports on +44 (0)115 748 4580,

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