by Kabir Nagpal
Born in Guyana and having moved to the United States, George Braithwaite left the world a true legend at the age of 86. A former track athlete who won several 100-meter races at the regional level, it was his athleticism effortlessly around a table and with a racket in hand. this has earned him his fans.
Having emigrated from Guyana, Braithwaite first accepted a job at the United Nations as a statistical clerk where he joined the United Nations Table Tennis Club in 1965. It was an emotional moment for Braithwaite as his life would later come to an end. the loop; sport would lead him to diplomacy itself.
Braithwaite’s true legacy went beyond table tennis. He played a decisive role in what was then called “the ping-pong democracy”; he landed him and his colleagues on the cover of Time Magazine. On the cover, he was seen touring China and the Great Wall with the original Ping Pong diplomacy group, where he found himself pushed into a leadership role.
This has brought him to be known as the “chef” of table tennis. Braithwaite wore this tag with pride and always made sure he was in great physical shape.
As a table tennis athlete, he started out as a defender using short buttons which were widely appreciated by all Chinese at that time. However, it used smooth reverse rubber and used the top spinning set which was quickly gaining popularity.
Braithwaite quickly switched to smooth rubber and completely changed his approach to the game, becoming a devastating striker. This was seen when he played Liang Geliang in a special exhibition match in 1971 with George HW Bush, who was then the UN ambassador, and set to be the future president of the United States d ‘America.
Two years later, in 1989, George Braithwaite was inducted into the United States Table Tennis Hall of Fame for his consistent marksmanship as well as his sportsmanship which was evident in the way he behaved when he performed. was away from the table.
On the special occasion of the 25th anniversary of ping-pong diplomacy in 1996, he met Henry Kissinger, then US Secretary of State, to mark the occasion and organized a “Friendship first, competition second»Series of exhibition matches. It was a very popular event, with the then ITTF President Xu Yingsheng in attendance.
It is with great sorrow that everyone at the ITTF, on behalf of the table tennis community as a whole, says goodbye to a legend like George Braithwaite. We also want to offer our condolences to George’s family at this difficult time.
History will never forget the chef of table tennis.
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