International table tennis comp takes over Parliament House

POLITICAL games were overshadowed in Parliament House on Thursday by real sport.

The Great Hall was transformed into a makeshift sporting arena as table tennis players from Australia, Korea and China played for international ranking points.

It was thought to be the first official sporting event to take place in Parliament House.

Former tennis champion and now the Member for Bennelong, John Alexander was the driving force behind bringing the matches to Parliament House.

In fact, the Bennelong Cup has grown from the Liberal backbencher's Bennelong Schools Table Tennis Program, which has put table tennis tables in all 40 schools in his electorate.

About 25% of the Bennelong electorate are of Chinese and Korean descent.

The table tennis program was designed to encourage healthy activity and integration between students of different cultural backgrounds through sport.

More than 100 students from the Bennelong region attended the event in Canberra on Thursday.

Mr Alexander said the event was held in honour of 40 years of diplomatic relations with China and last year's celebration of 50 years of diplomatic relations with Korea.

It was also attended by the People's Republic of China Ambassador Chen Yuming, the Republic of Korea Ambassador Teayong Cho, Federal Sports Minister Kate Lundy, Liberal Senator Arthur Sinodinos.

And for the record, Australia's leading player William Henzell was too polished for his Korean opponent in the men's match, while China prevailed over Australia in the women's encounter.

Members of the Korean wheelchair table tennis team also played an exhibition match.

The Bennelong Cup Table Tennis Test Match is an official tournament between the Australian Olympic team and the Korean men's and Chinese women's teams, with the rest of the matches to be held in Ryde, Sydney, over the weekend.

Topics:  australian government parliament house sport table tennis

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