NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Offbeat

September 2, 2009

Pingpong lovers: China allows champ a girlfriend

BEIJING (AP) — As the reigning table tennis world champion with two Olympic silver medals under his belt, China's Wang Hao almost had it all — except a girlfriend.

The 25-year-old was banned from dating until recently, when national team officials permitted his relationship with former national teammate, 23-year-old Peng Luyang, the government-owned China Daily reported Wednesday.

"Both of them are old enough and it's normal," the newspaper quoted Peng's coach Qiao Yunping as saying.

Strict control of athletes' personal lives is common in China's rigid state-run sporting system, which grooms young hopefuls in specialized sports schools around the country to become gold medalists, providing them with intensive training and free food, clothes and shelter.

Under the watchful eye of team officials, star athletes are often banned from dating or marrying until a certain age, restricted in endorsement contracts and sometimes have a large percentage of their winnings taken away.

Athletes who date without permission risk being punished. In 2004, Wang started dating another fellow national team player, Fan Ying, and officials kicked Fan off the national team. Media reports said Wang avoided punishment at the time because his world ranking was much higher than Fan's.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Offbeat

Offbeat
NDN Video
Famous Internet Cats Help Big Cause With Viral Video Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2" Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans