Pa­per cutouts honor China’s Olympic idols

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By YANG JUN in Guiyang yangjun@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Ev­ery morn­ing for two years, Deng Ron­grong woke at 7 am to be­gin an­other day’s work on her “he­roes”— 108 cut pa­per por­traits of Chi­nese ta­ble ten­nis cham­pi­ons.

The 72-year-old for­mer ta­ble ten­nis coach from Guizhou prov­ince de­voted morethan 11 hours aday per­fect­ing the al­bum, which she calls The Glory of Na­tional Sport.

Deng, who had no pre­vi­ous art ex­pe­ri­ence, took up pa­per cut­ting as a hobby af­ter re­tir­ing in 2009. Tu­tored by other artists, she be­gan with sim­ple de­signs such as fish and but­ter­flies.

“Peo­ple were skep­ti­cal whethermy en­er­getic ‘racket hands’ could hold a pair of scis­sors,” she said.

“But sports has taught me to be de­ter­mined, pa­tient and calm. It ac­tu­ally helped me suc­ceed in pa­per cut­ting.”

She pro­gressed from draw­ing sim­ple signs of the zo­diac to re­pro­duc­ing en­tire fa­mous Chi­nese paint­ings, in­clud­ing a 12-me­ter-long ver­sion of Along the River Dur­ing the Qing­ming Fes­ti­val.

In 2012, Deng de­cided she wanted to pay trib­ute to her ta­ble ten­nis idols, but she wor­ried that her art­work would not do them jus­tice.

“They are all fa­mous peo­ple. I feared my crafts­man­ship wasn’t good enough,” she said.

So, af­ter com­plet­ing a draft ver­sion of the por­traits, Deng trav­eled to Bei­jing to meet all the cham­pi­ons she could, armed only with a map, a wa­ter bot­tle and her sketches.

“Peo­ple thought I was crazy try­ing to find Olympic cham­pi­ons with a city map,” Deng said, but af­ter three months of search­ing, she met with Qiu Zhonghui, WangNan, Li­uWei and four other Olympic ta­ble ten­nis cham­pi­ons, who all praised her work.

Ma Lin, the 2008 Olympic gold medal­ist, even wanted a copy to place next to his tro­phies.

With 108 pa­per por­traits al­ready un­der her belt, Deng’s next project — to cre­ate a 222-por­trait al­bum fea­tur­ing all Chi­nese gold medal­ists since 1984 called China, Olympics and Glory — be­gan in 2015.

“I wanted to com­mem­o­rate the Olympic Games in my own way and cheer for our ath­letes,” she said.

Zhan Xiaoy­ong, Deng’s hus­band, re­searched the pho­tos and gave ad­vice, while she worked on the por­traits.

“He is the mind and I am the hand, we are a per­fect team,” said Deng, who took around three to seven hours to cre­ate each por­trait, de­pend­ing on how in­tri­cate it was.

Xu Haifeng, the first Chi­nese gold medal­ist, took Deng sev­eral days to com­plete.

“Some­times the early pho­tos are just not clear enough, and my hus­band and I go through sev­eral de­signs be­cause we want ev­ery feature to be as pre­cise as pos­si­ble,” she said.

“As a for­mer coach, I fully un­der­stand the ded­i­ca­tion of ev­ery ath­lete. They are all he­roes inmy eyes.”

China, Olympics and Glory has been on dis­play in Xi­a­men Olympic Mu­seum since in Fu­jian prov­ince early Au­gust.

of all Chi­nese gold medal­ists since 1984 are on dis­play at the Xi­a­men Olympic Mu­seum.

Zhang Zhihao con­trib­uted to this story.

PRO­VIDED TO CHINA DAILY

Deng Ron­grong with her lat­est cut-pa­per al­bum at Xi­a­men Olympic Mu­seum in Fu­jian prov­ince.

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