My friend Peng Jiang, a regular ping pong practice partner of mine, is originally from Beijing. I took the opportunity to visit Beijing while he was there. He introduced me to a former national team player and world doubles champion, Lin Zhigang, (who is the husband of Deng Yaping).
At this branch of Beijing Gas, they have two tables with the red floor setup. Bejing Gas is a table tennis sponsor and Lin Zhigang is employed by them.
Lin Zhigang is from Guangzhou and speaks cantonese. I'm getting some free coaching from him here:
(Actually, he gave the exact same technical advice as my main coach in Shenzhen, Liu Chang (also a penholder). He said: if you really want to play much better, always keep your paddle above the table, use a much smaller swing, take the ball earlier just after the top of bounce instead of waiting for it to drop low, always move feet first, waist turn for power and forearm closure for spin..)
We all had dinner together after the ping pong, and Lin Zhigang was very sociable.
Turns out he had been to the US Open in 1994. I was at the same tournament. Funny that I finally got to meet and talk with the guy 18 years later!
Next day, I was at the flagship Beijing Li Ning store on Wangfujing (王府井), a major shopping street in Beijing.
Li Ning sponsors the Chinese national team. There is a limited edition set of the Year of the Dragon national team kit, a special release to commemorate the 2012 London Olympics. Only 100 sets are available. (There are over 8000 Li Ning retail outlets in China. 30 sets were released to the flagship store.) I'm not a collector, but I felt compelled to pick up one set:
Here is a close up of the presentation box:
It'll be a simple keepsake that will remind me of my Beijing trip. (I'll never actually wear the kit. The gold color metallic detailing looks too delicate to survive a machine wash cycle.)
By request, here are some close-up pictures of the commemorative shirt and detailing. Shirt front:
Metallic flake detailing:
Back of shirt:
The so-called "Scarlet Scale" vents at the back:
According to the Li Ning company:
The "Scarlet Scales" sportswear series features scale-shaped breathing vents at the back, referred to as "Scarlet Scale Vents". Opening and closing of these vents are determined by the athlete's movements. When an athlete is moving with high-intensity or performing a specific and highly technical motion, the vents will be opened to increase the airflow between the body and the clothing material. When the athlete is carrying out basic activities, the "Scarlet Scale Vents" will close to prevent heat loss and help the body maintain energy.