A former Olympic table tennis star caused a stir at national competitions earlier this month when she berated her daughter’s Orthodox Jewish doubles partner.
Fei Ming Tong, who placed ninth at the 2000 Olympics TaiwanHe reportedly called Estee Ackerman, a 20-year-old table tennis prodigy, “ugly” and a “piece of s***” at the US National Table Tennis Championships.
She also reportedly dropped F-bombs and said Ackerman’s conservative style of dress was “unprofessional” and “disgusting,” Ackerman’s father said New York Postbefore pulling her daughter Lucy Chen out of the competition, leaving Ackerman without a partner.
The altercation left Ackerman in tears, she said.
“That was discrimination,” Glenn Ackerman said, noting that both Tong and her daughter and the Ackermans live on Long Island — and Tong even coached his daughter at one point because he knew she was Jewish.
It remains unclear what led to the confrontation, and the Ackermans insist their outfit didn’t hamper their performance at Nationals, where they even won silver in the Hardbat competition played with an old-school paddle.
USA Table Tennis is now investigating the incident, CEO Virginia Sung told the Post, but could not comment on the matter.
Fei Ming Tong, a former Taiwanese ping-pong star, is said to have verbally abused her daughter’s Orthodox-Jewish doubles partner at the US national table tennis championships earlier this month
Estee Ackerman, a 20-year-old table tennis prodigy, wears shooting sleeve shirts that cover her elbows at all competitions, as well as skirts and leggings when competing, in accordance with her religion
Ackerman, now a senior at Stern College for Women in New York City, has played table tennis since she was eight years old at the urging of her father, who taught his two children to play in hopes it would help them improve their hand-eye coordination to develop , according to the Long Island Herald.
She beat tennis star Rafael Nadal at the age of eleven and in 2016 she competed in the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
She has won multiple gold medals at the US National Table Tennis Championships but had to miss the 2020 Olympic Trials because she had to play for part of the tournament during the Jewish Sabbath, which lasts from sundown on Fridays to sundown on Saturdays.
After the altercation, Tong reportedly pulled her daughter Lucy Chen (right) out of the doubles tournament, leaving Ackerman without a partner
Ackerman has played table tennis since she was 8 and her father said Tong once coached Ackerman, despite knowing she was Jewish
She has dabbled in the Olympics and even once beat tennis pro Rafael Nadal in a match
At all of her competitions, her father said, Ackerman wears shirts with shooting sleeves that cover her elbows, along with skirts and leggings.
She wore one of those outfits at the national competition earlier this month, her father said, when the only dress requirement was that contestants shouldn’t wear white, as it would clash with the ball.
“It’s not like my dress was a barrier to my level of competition,” Ackerman told the Post. “That’s definitely not the case.”
After Tong took her daughter out of the competition, Ackerman was actually able to compete in other events — and she saw her overall rating improve throughout the competition.
Tong, meanwhile, told the New York Post that she wasn’t aware of any issues between her and Ackerman.
She said Ackerman was one of her “best and dearest” students and wished her “all the best in her bright future.”