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Profile | Ding Ning: Carrying the torch of youth
Jun 13, 2023
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Peking University, June 13, 2023: When Ding Ning received the invitation to be the last (31st) torchbearer at the Flame Relay Launch Ceremony of the Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games, which was held at PKU on June 10, 2023, she felt a surge of excitement and honor.

Having previously served as the torchbearer for the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games and the flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the Rio Olympic Games, Ding, an Olympic champion and a postgraduate student at PKU's Department of Physical Education, expressed deep appreciation for being a part of these remarkable sporting events. This time, carrying the flames around the familiar campus, she felt "relaxed and cheerful," Ding says. 

To Ding, the torch symbolizes light, friendship, hope, and the competitive spirit and torchbearers embody the spirit of the Games and act as its envoys. The FISU World University Games serves as both a stage for athletic competition and a platform for cultural exchange among young people, she highlights.

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Ding, a "Grand Slam" player who had dominated the table tennis arena in the World Table Tennis Championships, Table Tennis World Cup, and Olympic Table Tennis, began playing the sport at the age of five and joined the national team at just 13 years old.

At the age of 19, she won her first world championship, a feat she had dreamt of since childhood as a means to bring gold medals and glory to her country. Ding vividly recalls the unforgettable moment of watching the women's table tennis final at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, held at PKU, where the entire crowd sang the Chinese national anthem.

"That moment gave me great strength," Ding recalls, "At that moment, I envisaged that one day I could stand onto the podium to enable the Chinese flag raised and the national anthem played."

Following the triumphant achievements of the Chinese team at the 2021 Olympic Games, Ding announced her retirement and subsequently enrolled at PKU, embarking on a new journey. 

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This year, she successfully completed all her studies and defended her graduate thesis. Ding believes that personal growth should have no limits and hopes to apply her knowledge in areas such as mass sport culture, exercise rehabilitation, and national fitness campaigns.

Most recently, at the PKU HSBC Business School Commencement 2023, Ding shared with the graduating class the valuable lessons she gained from her athletic career, emphasizing the glittering light of "endeavor, perseverance, and courage" in life.

"Always maintain an indomitable spirit and pursue those guiding lights," Ding encourages the graduates.

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▼ More on PKU News' coverage of the Chengdu Universiade torch relay:

Chengdu Universiade torch relay: Stories of the seven PKU torchbearers

Panda Rongbao 'shows up' at PKU, and he’s on a mission

In pics: Chengdu Universiade torch relay starts at Peking University

FISU Games torch relay kicks off at Peking University

Written by: Chen Chuyun
Edited by: Dennis Meng
Source: PKU News (Chinese), Xinhua