Rong Guotuan: 1st world champion of new China
Rong Guotuan was a Chinese male table tennis player. He won men's singles title at the 1959 World Table Tennis Championships in Dortmund, the first world championship winner representing the People's Republic of China. During the "cultural revolution" (1966-76), Rong was framed as "Spy Suspect". He committed suicide on June 20, 1968.
Rong was born in Hong Kong on August 10, 1937. Native place of his family was at Nanping Village, Zhongshan County (now the Nanping Town, Zhuhai City, Guangdong Province). He had started playing table tennis since his childhood and participated in competitions in Hong Kong as a junior. In 1957, Rong made up his mind to return to the Chinese mainland. He won national champion in the following year and was later selected as a member of the national team.
At the 25th World Table Tennis Championships in Dortmund in 1959, Rong won the men's singles competition and became China's first world championship winner after the foundation of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
At the 26th World Table Tennis Championships in Beijing in 1961, he helped Chinese men's team win the first team title. After 1964, he worked as the coach of Chinese women's team. The women's team won their first champion at the 28th World Table Tennis Championships in 1965.
He won the title of Master of sports in 1958 and two medals of honor for sports issued by the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission (in 1959 and 1961). In 1984, he was cited as one of the most excellent athletes in the 35 years since the founding of the PRC.
During the ten years of turmoil, Rong Guotuan was framed as "Spy Suspect" and he committed suicide in 1968 at age 31, leaving his little daughter. In 1978, the State Physical Culture and Sports Commission rehabilitate Rong Guotuan's honor. In 1987, a bronze statue of Rong Guotuan was built in Zhuhai city, his hometown.