|Sasaki Atsuko (L) takes care of her husband Zhuang Zedong (C) in Beijing, capital of China, Feb. 10, 2013. Zhuang Zedong, a former Chinese table tennis player known for his participation in Sino-U.S. Ping-Pong Diplomacy in the 1970s, died at the age of 73 in Beijing on Feb. 10, 2013. (Xinhua/Tang Shizeng)
BEIJING, Feb. 10 (Xinhua) -- Table tennis legend Zhuang Zedong, who played a major role in ping-pong diplomacy, died in a Beijing hospital on Sunday after lengthy illness. He was 73.
Zhuang had been suffering from cancer and his condition grew worse last July and had developed complications from liver failure.
Zhuang, who won a horde of events in the 1960s, is famed for his chance meeting with a US table tennis player Glenn Cowan during the 31st World Table Tennis Championships in 1971.
The term ping-pong diplomacy describes exchanges of table tennis players in the early 1970s between China and the United States in hope of normalizing the two countries' relations.
Zhuang married his second wife, Chinese-born Japanese Sasaki Atsuko, in 1987.
Zhuang was diagnosed with advanced colorectal cancer in August 2008, with complications in his liver and lungs.