One of China‘s best-known table tennis players is reportedly being sued in a Hong Kong court for failing to fully pay off a gambling debt he ran up while at the Marina Bay Sands property in Singapore.
According to a report from the Reuters news service, 41-year-old Kong Linghui (pictured) is being sued in the Hong Kong High Court for approximately $327,200 after he allegedly signed a credit agreement with the Singapore hotel and casino in February of 2015 for around $721,300.
The news service reported that the intervening two years has seen Harbin-born Linghui, who now works as the head coach for his nation’s female table tennis team, only managed to repay about $393,500 of the outstanding amount and left the 2,560-room property owned by Las Vegas Sands Corporation waiting for the balance.
The South China Morning Post newspaper reported that Kong, who it referred to as the “ping-pong prince”, came to prominence in the late-1990s after managing to become one of the few table tennis players to collect the grand slam of world championship, World Cup, and Olympic titles. However, he announced his early retirement in 2006 after crashing his Porsche in Beijing while allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol and subsequently escaping the automatic 15-day detention penalty due to sporting commitments.
The newspaper reported that Kong won a pair of gold alongside one silver Olympic medal during his career and was known for utilizing the western-style “shake-hand” grip as opposed to the “pen-hold” tactic favored by most other Asian players.
The South China Morning Post additionally reported that Kong took to the Weibo social networking service on Monday evening to declare that he had been in Singapore at the time the credit agreement with the Marina Bay Sands had been arranged but that he had simply been helping “family and friends”. He wrote that he had observed members of his party gambling before assisting them in collecting “some gambling chips” and leaving “a relevant personal message”.
The newspaper reported that Kong added that he was “deeply disturbed” by the negative impact the matter could have on his reputation and immediately urged those who owed the debt to clarify what had happened in Singapore.