Late Guyanese table tennis champion George Braithwaite to be honored

Former U.S. table tennis champion George Braithwaite warms up before an exhibition game titled "American/Chinese Ping Pong Diplomacy: The Rematch", at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, California June 12, 2008. Braithwaite was a member of the original USA team involved in the historic 1971 match against the Chinese in Beijing. Table tennis was the sport that eventually helped lead to a breakthrough in diplomatic ties between the U.S. and China.
REUTERS/Mark Avery/File

The George Braithwaite Table Tennis Court will be unveiled at Capobianco Field, Roosevelt Island during the late sportsman’s Ping Pong Diplomacy Commemoration on Saturday, Oct. 23.

Players and officials from China, Guyana, the Caribbean, and other parts of the world will attend the celebration that will be highlighted with music, poetry, and dance.

The three, blue concrete tables in Braithwaite’s honor were commissioned by the State of New York and built by Alan Good of HENGE Tables.

“We hope you will join us for a fun commemoration of the life of George Braithwaite, may his spirit continue forward in the play of the youth at this event and in the many lessons he taught us all, especially, friendship first, competition second,” said Thomas Hu, chief executive officer of American Youth Table Tennis Organization, and host of the event.

Guyanese-born, Braithwaite who died on Oct. 26, 2020, lived most of his life on Roosevelt Island, represented the United States table tennis team to Nagoya, Japan, where he competed in a world championship, 50 years ago, and there after, was invited to China.

According to a release, this ended a two-decade Cold War that had started with the end of World War II, and the ‘Chief,’ as Braithwaite was called, led the team to historic meetings with Premier Zhou En Lai and Chairman Mao Ze Dong.

Braithwaite, a decorated medalist who was among the U.S. Ping Pong team photographed at the Great Wall of China, and featured on the cover of Time Magazine in April 1971, was at the time employed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

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