Deng Yaping was a table tennis prodigy, but had a hard time getting into the provincial or national team, being denied access because she was too short - even as an adult, she stood only 1.50 m. She finally broke through at age 16, and immediately won the doubles title at the 1989 World Championships with Qiao Hong. It was the start of a stellar career, in which Deng collected eight world titles (3 singles, 3 doubles, 2 team) and was runner-up five times. At the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, she won both the singles and the doubles events, beating her doubles partner Qiao in the Barcelona singles final. She was #1 in the world rankings for eight years, from 1990 until her retirement in 1997. Deng then dedicated time to her function on the IOC Athletes Committee. Not speaking any English, she went to study in Nottingham. In 2003, Deng Yaping was honored by being elected Chinese Female Athlete of the Century, and was also inducted into the Table Tennis Hall of Fame.