(by Steve Hopkins)
John Tannehill passed away earlier this week at the age of 68. John’s storied table tennis career included accolades as a junior and several years as a top 5 player in the US, including finishing two time as the runner-up at the US Open. He may be best known in the sport for his role in Ping Pong Diplomacy, as John was the top ranked player on the US team that went on to visit China in 1971, and it was the actions of that team that helped make that diplomacy possible.
I had the great honor of accompanying John and others to China to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1971 trip. John was quoted as saying that he was treated like a rock star on that 2011 trip, signing autographs and doing interviews every day. I absolutely second his sentiment that the group were treated like rock stars. The Chinese hosts treated the group extremely well from start to finish. John’s presence was important and it was appreciated by the Chinese players, officials, and fans as well as by the entire US Delegation.
I am sharing two photos that I took of John during that 2011 trip. Please visit his official obituary for detailed information about John and the funeral which is scheduled for July 7, 2020.