China to rule the worlds again, says European great

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 May, 2011, 12:00am


Hong Kong's table tennis team were treated to a taste of Dutch playing style yesterday ahead of the world championships which start in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, next week.

Retired ace Bettine Vriesekoop, a Sinologist who is also the tournament ambassador and was voted the best Dutch women's table tennis player of the century in 2000, was in Hong Kong yesterday and found time for a light workout with Hong Kong's Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana.

'It will be a great world championships with the presence of so many quality players from more than 140 countries and it will set the Dutch audiences alight,' said Vriesekoop, who won the European singles and mixed doubles in 1982 and was European singles champion again in 1992.

'Hong Kong will be one of the contenders, but China remain the force to be reckoned with because of the number of top players they have.'

Vriesekoop, who speaks fluent Putonghua, worked as a freelance correspondent for the Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad in China between 2006 and 2009, but her development into an expert on China began long ago, when she was still a player taking part in training camps and competitions on the mainland. She also studied Chinese culture and travelled extensively in the country.

'I have known her since the days we were both players,' said Li Huifen, now the Hong Kong women's team coach, who won a singles silver medal for China at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

'She was one of the best players in Europe in those days and I was happy to meet her again here in Hong Kong.'

The world table tennis championships will be held at Rotterdam's Ahoy Arena from May 8 to 15.