Champion China table tennis player slammed for losing crucial Singapore game after ‘joyfully singing’ at Taylor Swift gig


A top table tennis player in China has faced online criticism for “slacking” after he went to a Taylor Swift concert in Singapore before taking part in and crashing out of a major tournament in the Lion City. - Photo: SCMP composite/Weibo/Baidu/Douyin

BEIJING (SCMP): A top table tennis player in China who was accused of losing an international match in Singapore because he attended a Taylor Swift concert has defended himself by saying he is just an ordinary young man with hobbies.

Fan Zhendong, 27, a former world No 1 ping pong champion, was defeated by his teammate Lin Shidong, 18, at the World Table Tennis (WTT) Grand Smash in Singapore at the beginning of March.

The loss meant he was unable to compete in the next round for the top 16 players, news outlet Red Star News reported.

Another Chinese player, Wang Chuqin, won the championship and climbed to first place in the WTT ranking. Fan was ranked second because of his failure in Singapore.

A video clip of Fan singing Swift’s famous song Cruel Summer, along with the audience at the concert, went viral on mainland social media.

Many online observers said he should have been doing more training before the matches instead of going out and enjoying himself.

Top table tennis player Fan Zhendong sings his heart out at the Taylor Swift concert in Singapore. - Photo: Douyin via the SCMPTop table tennis player Fan Zhendong sings his heart out at the Taylor Swift concert in Singapore. - Photo: Douyin via the SCMP

In a post written on Weibo on March 17, Fan admitted he did not play well at Singapore and vowed to work harder in the future.

But he also defended the three hours of his leisure time he spent going to the show.

“I bought a ticket from the second-hand market to join this big party that Swifties from all over the world dreamed of,” Fan wrote in his post.

“I am an athlete cultivated by my country. It’s my duty to fight for the country and I’ve never slacked on this for more than 10 years.

“In my off hours, I am just an ordinary young man. I have normal hobbies and I have my social network. I will continue to be true to my heart under the premise of following the law and the rules,” he said.

Fan’s video showed him wearing several multicoloured friendship bracelets which are typically taken by Swift’s fans to exchange with each other.

The canvas bag he held for carrying a handheld fan and water bottle is painted with images of the singer.

Like other enthusiastic supporters of Swift, Fan took videos of the singer on his mobile phone throughout the concert and sang along with his idol.

Online observers largely supported Fan’s right to enjoy himself during his leisure time. - Photo: Douyin via the SCMPOnline observers largely supported Fan’s right to enjoy himself during his leisure time. - Photo: Douyin via the SCMP

“Music is universal. Great musicians like Taylor Swift bring us healing power and confidence. Hope everyone can feel the charm from her,” said Fan.

His post has received 300,000 likes on Weibo and attracted numerous supportive comments.

“You are an athlete striving hard in matches, but are also a cute person outside matches. Do not worry. We will always side with you,” one online observer wrote.

“Love work and love life. That is the true Fan Zhendong,” said another. - South China Morning Post

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SCMP , Table Tennis Star , China , Concert , Taylor Swift

   

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