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June 27, 2017

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Boll wows Chinese women with pingpong, sex appeal

STEPHEN WADE--Who says table tennis isn't sexy?

German player Timo Boll is the biggest threat to China's dominance in the sport at the London Olympics, but it's his good looks that makes him more popular in Beijing than Berlin.

Boll is a heartthrob in China.

"Sometimes in China I feel a little bit like rock star, but we have to be sportsmen and professionals," Boll said in an interview with The Associated Press. "It's not the life of a rock star. There's no hanging around in bars and discotheques. But sometimes at big events there are there many fans and we need soldiers to protect us."

Besides his skill with a paddle, it's the 31-year-old German's appearance that has some Chinese women risking being called "traitors" for their support of him in a sport China has dominated by winning 20 of 24 Olympic golds.

Star-struck female fans pour over his microblog site for photos.

On Weibo, China's microblog version of Twitter, Boll has more than 100,000 followers. And his female fans aren't bashful.

"You are so sexy," wrote one, commenting about a photo of Boll, his back exposed on a massage table.

"What a sexy back," added another.

From a third: "Hard to keep cool about this photo."

Last July he posted a photo of himself in a Peking roast duck restaurant. Harmless enough.

"Cool. Stunningly handsome," came one comment, with no mention of the duck.

"Ha ha, you are so cute," from another.

On the popular forum Tianya, a woman commented: "He's perfect. Makes me an intoxicated fan."

Friedhard Teuffel, the sports editor of the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel, published a book last year about Boll's experience in China — titled appropriately, "My China."

"When he appears the girls start crying and everyone wants an autograph and wants to touch him," Teuffel told the AP. "German politicians and companies know that when Timo is invited to a press conference in China, lots of people will attend."

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