Friday, 22 August 2008

The Sexing-Up

I have wondered many things since the Olympics started. Things such as: What’s Beijing like? And why is beach volley ball an Olympic sport?

But I’ve never mused on why table tennis should be made sexier.

Maybe it’s because I don’t play the sport. But clearly the bigwigs of the International Table Tennis Federation have been exercising their minds on this issue.

And the ITTF’s vice-president, Claude Bergeret, has come out and said the girls should be urged to wear skirts and more alluring shirts.

“Not the shirts that are made for men,” he advised. “But ones with more curves.”

Ooh la la.

Ana Ivanovic, the women’s world number one, is a Slavonic rhapsody of a looker. The Serb could more or less wear anything on the court and look dynamite.

Over in the men’s the top player Rafael Nadal sports a sleeveless shirt that accentuates his Uberhombre upper torso.

At the French Open you can just hear the women in the stands swooning as the Spanaird packs off a pheromone-filled forehand past the latest hapless sap on the other side of the net.

And not to mention the clenched fist: “vamos” following an important point. Indeed Nadal screams sex.

Not so China’s Wang Liqin, a top table tennis player he may be but he’s not going to leave the girls gaga.

No robust musculature on this one. He’s simply a wiry lad with regular features who plays a good game. True, just like his lawn tennis counterparts, there are plenty of clenched fists after crucial points but the game’s not built around expansiveness.

And as we all know, no matter what the therapists say, size does matter when it comes to sex in sport.

Table tennis is a compact, intense game. And its appeal lies in the fact that ordinary, even diminutive physiques seem to be able to excel.

It doesn’t appear to be the case in tennis. The players there are, for the most part, bigger;

Nevertheless some of the table tennis fillies feel it’s time to project lubricity. Japan’s Ai Fukuhara opted for a “skort” – a tight skirt with cycling shorts underneath - for her last 16 match against China’s Zhang Yining who faced off against her opponent in black shorts and a shirt which was emblazoned with a yellow dragon on the front.

That doesn’t seem to me to ooze sex appeal, it's perhaps better suited to dazzling the adversary into errors.

Have to say during the quarter final match between Liquin and the Croatian Tan Ruiwu on Friday afternoon at the Peking University Stadium, the crowd seemed to be getting into it.

They were shouting between and during points and Tan had to put his finger to his lips.

The spectators responded by lowering the decibels but it didn’t make much difference, Tan lost the second game 11-7 which prompted another barrage of flag waving and screaming.

During the pause before the third game, the crowds continued to brandish their flags and chant in unison to a derivative of the Human League’s Don’t You Want Me Baby.

It might not be sexy but they seemed to be having fun.

And we can never have enough of that.