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Conversation with leaders

The leadership in conversation series showcases inspiring stories of influential women leaders from around the world. We invite you to follow their journeys and their unique insights on leadership, careers and impact. 

A conversation with Dr Deng Yaping

Professor Sucheta Nadkarni interviews Dr Deng Yaping, six times world champion and four times Olympic champion in table tennis.

Video interview with Dr Deng Yaping - Part I

Video interview with Dr Deng Yaping - Part II

Dr Deng Yaping bio

Deng Yaping is a Chinese table tennis player, who won 18 world championships and four Olympic championships between 1989 and 1997. She is regarded as one of the greatest players in the history of the sport. She was voted Chinese female athlete of the century, and joined the International Table Tennis Federation Hall of Fame in 2003.

Deng began playing table tennis at age five, and four years later she won her provincial junior championship. She was age 13 when she won her first national championship. Despite her success, she was initially denied a spot on the national team because she was so short (she stood only 1.5 metres/4 feet 11 inches tall). Her talent, however, could not be denied, and she was finally included on the national team in 1988. She teamed with Qiao Hong to win her first world championship title in the women’s doubles competition in 1989. Two years later Deng won her first singles world championship. At the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, she won a gold medal in both the singles and doubles competitions and repeated the feat at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. She also earned singles and doubles titles at the 1995 and 1997 world championships.

After retiring at the end of the 1997 season, Deng served on the International Olympic Committee’s ethics and athletes commissions. She also was a member of the Beijing Organising Committee for the 1991 and 2008 Olympics. She gained a bachelors degree from Tsinghua University, a master's degree from the University of Nottingham, and a PhD in Land Economy at the University of Cambridge (Jesus College).

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