Chinese language pensioner Ren Qian’s ardour for table tennis retains him taking part in outdoors all 12 months spherical, even within the depths of Beijing’s brutally chilly winters.
The 73-year-old has been coming to Qingfeng Park within the metropolis’s east along with his spouse for the previous two years, in a bid to remain match.
“Once I was at school, you can see college students play table tennis nearly all over the place,” he remembers.
“We had ping-pong faculty groups, and nearly all the colleges held ping-pong competitions yearly — that is why many individuals in my age play very effectively.”
His personal curiosity was piqued in 1959 when, 10 years after the founding of communist China, Rong Guotuan turned the nation’s first world champion not simply in table tennis, however in any sport.
“That is the way it turned widespread,” he stated.
“Nearly all of the Chinese language began to play ping-pong since then.”
The skyscrapers of Beijing’s enterprise district tower over the tables, tucked away in a quiet nook in Qingfeng Park.
At the same time as temperatures plunge to freezing, Ren and his spouse should compete for a table with fellow ping-pong lovers.
The park’s 10 public tables are normally packed from eight:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Individuals come bundled up in opposition to the chilly in hats and gloves, sporting face masks due to the ever-present risk of the coronavirus — however as they warmth up, bouncing across the courtroom, the layers progressively begin coming off.
It is a scene replicated in parks throughout the town.
Anybody can play right here with out reserving, however should deliver their very own bats and balls.
Some even come on their very own to practise, hitting balls repeatedly over the net — by the tip, dozens lie scattered on the bottom.
A lot of the gamers are older males however there are girls too, additionally normally retirees. For a lot of, ping-pong harks again to their childhood and is a strategy to stay lively at the same time as they enter late life.
Ren and his spouse reside close by and play for about an hour every day.
Lots of these taking part in within the park additionally see China’s enduring success within the sport as a supply of nationwide pleasure — on the 2016 Rio Olympics, China gained all 4 gold medals.
“China wins nearly each worldwide ping-pong competitors these days,” stated Ren’s spouse Bi Jinglan, 70.
“So for the Chinese language, we’re very proud and delighted to play ping-pong.”