China table-tennis legend Zhuang dead

Feb. 10, 2013 at 11:58 AM

BEIJING, Feb. 10 (UPI) -- Chinese table-tennis champion Zhuang Zedong died at the age of 73 Sunday in a Beijing hospital after a long struggle with cancer, officials said.

Zhuang, who won scores of table-tennis matches in the 1960s, was a key figure in organizing the famed "ping pong diplomacy" visit by a U.S. team in the 1970s that contributed to the establishment of diplomatic relations between Beijing and Washington.

China's Xinhua News Agency said Zhuang and U.S. player Glenn Cowan hatched the idea during a chance meeting at the 1971 World Table Tennis Championships.

Zhuang was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2008. His conditioned worsened in July when his liver began to fail, Xinhua said.

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