February 6, 1973|
Zhengzhou, Henan, China
Deng Yaping (simplified Chinese: 邓亚萍; traditional Chinese: 鄧亞萍; born February 6, 1973 in Zhengzhou, Henan) is a Chinese table tennis player, who won eighteen world championships including four Olympic championships between 1989 and 1997. She is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport.
Deng began playing table tennis at age of five, and four years later she won the provincial junior championship. She was age 13 when she won her first national championship.
Despite her success, she was initially denied a spot on the national team because she was so short (she stood only 1.5 metres [4 feet 11 inches] tall). She was finally included on the national team in 1988. She teamed with Qiao Hong to win her first world championship title in the women's doubles competition in 1989. Two years later in 1991, Deng won her first singles world championship.
At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, she won a gold medal in both the singles and doubles competitions and repeated the feat at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, USA. She also earned singles and doubles titles at the 1995 and 1997 world championships.
When she retired at the age of 24, she had won more titles than any other player in this sport, including four Olympic gold medals, and had been World Champion 18 times. From 1990 to 1997, she retained the title of world No. 1 ranked female table tennis player for 8 years. She was voted Chinese female athlete of the century, and joined the International Table Tennis Federation Hall of Fame in 2003.
- 40th World Table Tennis Championship (1989) Women's Double Gold.
- 1st Table Tennis World Cup (1990) Women's Team Gold.
- 41st World Table Tennis Championship (1991) Women's Single Gold, Women's Team Silver, Women's Double Silver.
- 2nd Table Tennis World Cup (1991–1992) Women's Team Gold, Women's Double Gold.
- 25th Olympic Games (1992) Table Tennis Women's Single Gold, Women's Double Gold.
- 42nd World Table Tennis Championship (1993) Women's Team Gold, Women's Double Silver.
- 43rd World Table Tennis Championship (1995) Women's Team Gold, Women's Single Gold, Women's Double Gold, Mixed Double Silver.
- 4th Table Tennis World Cup (1995) Women's Team Gold
- 26th Olympic Games (1996) Table Tennis Women's Single Gold, Women's Double Gold.
- 5th Table Tennis World Cup (1996) Women's Single Gold
- 44th World Table Tennis Championship (1997) Women's Team Gold, Women's Single Gold, Women's Double Gold, Mixed Double Silver.
Life after retirement
After retiring at the end of the 1997 season, Deng served on the International Olympic Committee's ethics and athletes commissions. She is also a member of the elite Laureus World Sports Academy, and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
She gained a bachelor's degree from Tsinghua University, a master's degree from the University of Nottingham, and as of March 2006, was continuing to study for a PhD. in Land Economy at the University of Cambridge (Jesus College). Her research work coincides with her professional focus on the marketing, management and development of the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a member of the Beijing Organizing Committee.
In 2007, she married Lin Zhigang, also a table tennis player, and later gave birth to a baby boy.
In 2008, she received a PhD degree from Cambridge. Her thesis title is: "The impact of the Olympic Games on Chinese development: A multi-disciplinary analysis".
In 2010, she attracted controversy due to comments she made. A student asked her, "how can one get promoted quickly?" She answered, "when your personal value overlaps with the interests of the state, your value will be enlarged without limit." Later, she also said, "In the 62 years since the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the People's Daily have not published a single piece of fake news."