[SIZE=14px]TABLE TENNIS NATIONALS[/SIZE]
When The invitation arrived from China, we US"pupils" of table tennis accepted this opportunity to train with some of the greatest players on earth. We’re also eager to accept the invitation to see rehabilitation facilities. Our hosts believed if could help encourage wheelchair sports in Shanghai and give an chance to exchange skill–we agreed.ÂÂ
The 1992 wheelchair table-tennis staff was chosen at the Paralympic Trials, held at Hofstra University, July 12-16, 1991, and this trip was part of the training curriculum in preparation for Barcelona. US Coach Pei-Zhen Shao, a former women’s national champion of China, arranged this particular training and goodwill expedition.ÂIn the pingpongclan blog, there is a lot ofÂ table tennis knowledge, let’s find out more:Â http://pingpongclan.com/how-to-hold-…ly-for-newbie/
After Months of hard work and planning, we met in the airport at San Francisco on September 15. Our team of 16, headed by Jennifer Johnson, consisted of 10 wheelchair athletes (Johnson, Carolynne Bethka, Jackie DiLorenzo, Dr. Diana Richardson, Ruth Rosenbaum, Sebastian DeFrancesco, Jerry Davila, James Hall, John Gray, and Mike LoRusso), two trainers (Chris Lehman and Pie-Zhen Shao), one assistant (Al Youakim), 1 guest (Donald Dixon), a professional photographer (Harley Freedman), plus a cameraman (Christian Jacks). The latter could provide footage for a video we can share together with the American people.
We Landed at the airport in Shanghai in 5:30 pm Monday, September 16, after 13 pain-filled hours on the airplane. Like race horses from the gate, we bolted off the aircraft in search of open rest rooms, lifts, and missing wheelchairs. The Chinese people gathered about us in classes, as they would throughout the trip, apparently intrigued by this unusual phenomenon: the US wheelchair athelete. Their joy in our presence and also their willingness to assist in this barrier-filled surroundings helped make it a memorable trip.
Agents In the Shanghai Table Tennis Association and government individuals from the Shanghai Sports Federation and also the Sports Research Institute greeted us at the airport. We were taken to the luxurious Shanghai Olympic Hotel, which houses seeing athletes from many nations. Our hosts put a bus and crew at our disposal and escorted us into our training sessions and on many sightseeing and shopping expeditions during our ten-day stay in Shanghai.
Shanghai Is the world’s largest town, with a population of approximately 13 million individuals. At once the town was one of the world’s leading trading and banking centers. In 1842, individuals from France, Great Britain, and the US settled there and gained great power in town affairs. They built homes, churches, and tall office buildings, giving a lot of Shanghai a Western appearance. The Chinese Communists took over the city and the rest of China in 1949.
Now Just about all people in Shanghai are Chinese. Most work in factories and earn enough to have the ability to eat and dress well, by Chinese standards. They’re assigned housing and jobs and usually remain there.
China Gets the world’s oldest living civilization–its history goes back about 3,5000 decades. The people are proud of their legacy. Our gracious hosts introduced us into their own culture and customs. They enabled us to tour many fascinating and diverse arenas in Shanghai.
We Were able to see the town for ourselves on our first day out, on an escorted bus tour. Spirits were high as we stopped the vehicle. From the bus windows, we watched the city, passing street after street. Marketplaces lined the roads, where sellers demonstrated their good sin huge bins and crates. Live eels and fishes fought to get over the top of the bins. There were displays of fresh meats and vegetables on tables out in the open. Articles of jewelry and clothing were for sale. Buses were filled with standing people. There were automobiles, pedestrians, and countless people on bikes. Along with the housing was a combination of old and new interspersed within the marketplace. We could see people outside their houses, washing clothes, cooking food, or just sitting on seats or steps and gently watching. We passed beautiful palaces, structures, and gardens which gave us a glimpse of the way things were.
Our Itinerary was full and included coaching sessions, a contest, nine sightseeing trips and–for its hearty–evening entertainment as well. The coaching sessions included working with Shanghai’s junior group, ambulatory-disabled team, and women’s team and the Chinese coaches. This all cultimated at a competition at the end of our trip.
Although There were no neighborhood wheelchair players available, a competition was organized between our team and the Shanghai ambulatory disabled staff. These athletes normally play standingnevertheless, wheelchairs were provided for them, and we had an extreme yet"friendly" competition. The Chinese guys were shown to be strong and skillful, and many of our atheletes closely contested them. The amount of women players had been little and generally did not pose a hazard. This event has been shown and was covered by Chinese National TV in Shanghai and as far away as Beijing.
After The contest, the US team hosted a celebration in our hotel to the Chinese group. Dancing, music, and refreshments were provide. It was gratifying to find the faces of the Chinese group as they danced in wheelchairs for the very first time!
We Appreciating the Children’s Palace, which is an after-school training centre for kids ages 5-16 in the performing arts in addition to in athletics. There is no cost for attending, but just the most gifted are confessed. Our trainer started her table-tennis training there as a kid. The children performed; their job was professional, and their stage presence and concentration were innovative.
A Ship took us up the Huangpu River, which provides the city with a great harbor that is busy with traffic all the time, as ships large and small swarm the river. The boat trip started from the bustling downtown waterfront (known as the Bund), and we traveled all the way down to the estuary in the Wusung Mouth, where the Huangpu empties to the China Sea.
The Group returned to the Bund, which is a broad boulevard along the river, together with skycrappers (built in the 1920s) on one side and public gardens on the otherside. Wharvers and shipyards line the river beyond the gardens. Department stores and restaurants lie across the famous Nan-Jing, and we took advantage of the purchasing opportunities.
We Also had the rare chance of seeing the Shanghai Children’s Welfare Institute, Shanghai’s latest and innovative rehabilitation facility for handicapped and abandoned children. We toured the site including the working area which looked like something out of a history book. We chose candy to the children and played with them as long as we had been permitted. A few of the children had prepared a dancing performance for us. We were deeply touched and sad to leave them.
Another Interesting experience was the ‘ai chi ch’uan early-morning workouts together with all the Chines people. A sports arena was situated next to our resort, so many of us started the day at 6:00 a.m. by joining people who gathered round the stadium for the daily t’ai chi ritual. T’ ai chi is an ancient and traditional form of physical exercise done by old and young, with Chinese music. It’s as adorable as a lovely ballet.
We Were happy to meet with Cao Han Rong, deputy leader of the Welfare Fund of the Shanghai Municipal Handicapped Federation. This forum enabled us to present what we hoped would be thought-provoking queries as well as to share details about our life in the US and the advances we have made. The program started with Johnson’s presentation of a short history of the American Wheelchair Table Tennis Association. DeFrancesco talked about the advantages of wheelchair sports and also how they have enhanced his lifetime.
Coach Pei-Zhen told about her job with US athletes. She discussed this American wheelchair athlete’s spirit. We didn’t know her words, but we can tell she believed in what she was doing and she tried to impart this to the deputy.
Dr. Richardson spoke about US laws to defend the rights of people with disabilities together with all the recent enactment of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). She wondered whether there was something equivalent in China. The deputy told of their organization and of the advances they’ve made, particularly in the last two decades, with the passage of a legislation to protect the disabled. It was not clear exactly what"shield" meant.
Cocah Lehman noted that many of China’s handicapped players are highly proficient --perhaps of Paralympic caliber. He wondered whether they knew of the occurrence of the Paralympic Games and if they may attent. The deputy replied that cash for this kind of program would be difficult to obtain; there is also the issue of traveling outside of China.
It Was a fantastic exchange. We could just hope we had planted some seeds by enabling the Chinese to determine just what’s possible for people with disabilities.
A Reception was held for us at the American Consulate in Shanghai. A casual discussion with Consulate General Frank W. Wardlaw covered the civilization of China.
Our Chinese hosts watched it that our evenings were fun-filled. On these nights that were free, a number of our team pushed to the Sheraton Hotel, about a mile from our own accommodation. The Sheraton has a great disco, and we always felt . They also had real American food, and often we’d cap off the day with ice cream from their deli.
On The last day of our stay in Shanghai, our Chinese hosts gave a farewell banquet. The food was incredible, with course after course of their very best Chinese food I’ve ever tasted. After a couple of toasts, I felt rather melancholy, realizing I would say goodbye the next day not only to our Chinese hosts but also to my teammates and traveling companions. This had been an outstanding experience, and all of these people had contributed in it with me. We had developed a closeness, a unique bonding that appears to happen on these trips.
I Silently toasted friends and my teammates, especially Jennifer Johnson, our company’s president. Few people knew what an achievement it was and what a credit it was to her this trip had materialized. There had been months of planning, letter writing, details, and drawbacks. There had been the typical problems of fund-raising. There was disappointment that this endeavor wasn’t important enough to warrant media attention–which the US television networks did not see the merit of the story and hadn’t delivered a film crew to shoot a movie. (They didn’t recognize the significance of athletes visiting China to prepare for the Paralympics in Barcelona or that this goodwill excursion could perhaps help make living conditions better for Chinese people with disabilities.)
In The end, though, we did it; we pulled off it. Sponsors came through, and for the price of an airline ticket and lodging, we were able to obtain a professional, freelance film-maker.
Wednesday, September 25, our day of departure from Shanghai, came all too quickly. The Memories abound, and there is great pleasure in considering our time in China. Listening to tapes of Chinese music is reassuring, and we have managed To convince our karate sensei to add a little t’ai chi to our twice-weekly workouts. The China Experience will be remembered and will long be a part Of us.read more my pingpongnow blog:Â http://pingpongnow.com/what-is-the-s…ng-pong-table/