Former Olympic gold table tennis player Kong Linghui being sued for HK$2.5m by Singaporean hotel

Kong Linghui, also known as “ping-pong prince”, being sued by Marina Bay Sands for failing to fully repay debt to hotel’s casino according to writ filed in Hong Kong court

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 May, 2017, 8:15pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, 12:41am

A former Olympic gold Chinese table tennis player is facing a HK$2.55 million lawsuit over a gaming debt to a prestigious Singaporean hotel – where he was dubbed “a premium player”.

Kong Linghui, also known as “the ping-pong prince”, is being sued by Marina Bay Sands for failing to repay fully a sum of S$1 million (HK$5.63 million) he borrowed from the hotel’s casino in February, 2015, according to a Hong Kong court writ.

Kong made his name on the world stage between the late 90s and early 2000s by becoming one of the very few table tennis players to have won the grand slam of titles – the world championships, World Cup and Olympics. He won a total of three Olympic medals – two gold and one silver.

He is now the head coach of the national women’s table tennis team, according to the writ filed last Friday.

The court writ said Kong signed a credit agreement two years ago to borrow S$1 million from the operator, S$100,000 of which was drawn to establish him as a premium player. He had since repaid S$545,625 (HK$3 million), but failed to offset the balance in full, leaving S$454,375 unpaid.

The Lion City hotel is now seeking the remaining amount from Kong, as well as the interest incurred over that time.

Kong, known for his western shakehand grip as opposed to most Asian players’ penhold grip, was forced into early retirement in 2006 after crashing his Porsche in Beijing, while drink-driving. He escaped an automatic 15-day detention because of his sporting commitments.

At that time, [I] helped them collect some gambling chips and leave a relevant personal message
Kong Linghui

It was unclear whether the incident played a part in his decision to quit, but he cited his drop in performance as a reason.

On Monday night, Kong took to Weibo – China’s version of Facebook – to state he had helped his “family and friends”.

He recalled that he was in Singapore with his parents, family and friends for an approved trip.

Kong said he had sat and observed while those with him went gambling at the hotel casino. “At that time, [I] helped them collect some gambling chips and leave a relevant personal message,” he wrote.

After media revealed the case, Kong continued, he said he immediately contacted the persons involved. He said at that time he learned there had been an unsettled debt dispute, bringing him into a legal case.

Kong said he immediately invited those who owed the debt to clarify what had happened and made clear on Monday that he had reserved his legal rights.

He added he was “deeply disturbed” by the negative impact the matter had brought to his team as they competed in an international tournament.

Kong urged people not to lose faith in him, vowing to lead his team to play their best.