China's Newest Export: Medal Winners
China took the gold medal in women's team table tennis on Sunday and in second and third place were two teams buoyed by former Chinese nationals who left the mainland in search of better playing opportunities.
Singapore, whose team had three players that used to play for China, took silver while South Korea, which had Dang Ye Seo, formerly Tang Ruixu of China, won bronze.
The table tennis players are part of a wave of Chinese athletes trained under its make-or-break state-run sports system that have sought citizenship elsewhere.
Lang Ping, the U.S. women's volleyball coach that led the team to victory against China on Friday, is also Chinese-born and as part of the Chinese national team from 1981 to 1985 won five world championships.
Chinese fans have greeted these athletes with mixed feelings. While some have attacked them as traitors, others have said they feel proud that their Chinese brothers and sisters are succeeding elsewhere.
In a survey this weekend by China Daily, 16 percent of respondents said they consider it "regrettable" that Chinese athletes are playing for other teams and 6 percent said they were worried that it would threaten China's efforts to win championships. But a greater number--32.4 percent--said they felt "proud" of the achievements.
The table tennis silver is the first medal won by Singapore since 1960. Its recruitment of Chinese athletes in recent years has been controversial within the tiny city-state because until now they have failed to win any medals. The table tennis team will get a bonus of about a half-million dollars for the Olympic win.
--Ariana Eunjung Cha
August 17, 2008; 8:11 PM ET
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