Now we know what this ex-Olympian does in his down time.
Marina Bay Sands (MBS) is now taking legal actions against former Chinese Olympian champion Kong Linghui for racking up a colossal amount of 2.5 million in Hong Kong dollars (~SGD450,000).
In February, 2015, he borrowed a sum of one million Singapore dollars from Marina Bay Sands. Out of that one million SGD, 900,000 were used as chips and the remaining 100,000 were the “high-roller expenses” he incurred.
Till today, the ex-Olympian table tennis player hasn’t paid off the gambling debt completely. He still owes the casino about SGD450,000, coming up to approximately 2.5 million in Hong Kong dollars.
His illustrious track record until this blemish
Kong has been one of the most notable table tennis players in China.
Born in Harbin, China in 1975, the seasoned player took part in Summer Olympics multiple times – during the years 1996, 2000 and in 2004. In 1996, he clinched the gold medal alongside Liu Guoliang in men’s doubles competition. This was followed by another gold medal he won in the men’s singles competition and a silver medal in the doubles event with Liu Guoliang again.
Another formidable feat he has performed is achieving a grand slam of three major achievements – Olympics, World Cup and World Championships. Only the “Mozart of table tennis” Jan-Ove Waldner from Sweden and others have achieved a grand slam before.
After his official announcement that he would not be playing table tennis professionally in 2006, he assumed the role of coach for the national women’s team for table tennis in China.
Since 2013, Kong was promoted to the head coach of national women’s table tennis team.
Living on the high life
On a weekly basis, MBS sees up to 150 high-rollers, where each of them are said to have at least SGD100,000 in their accounts. If Kong was able to rack up a debt of 1 million SGD at MBS, it is pretty self-explanatory that he is one of those high-rollers.
There is even an exclusive by-invite-only membership program at MBS – “Paiza” (which literally means 牌子 in Mandarin). You can say that the members in this tightly-controlled circle are lavished with the finest things in life.
These members walk around with everyone knowing them by name and can enter the Paiza-only VIP Gaming suites, where free-flow bubbly come at their whim. Just when you think it can’t get any better for them, there is even an endless flow of bird’s nest but not even that can stop them from placing their bets once they kick into full swing.
All of the shows in the Marina Bay Sands Theatre are also accessible to them as they can even get priority access. Whether or not Kong is amongst these big spenders, it is anybody’s guess.
While it may not be the first time MBS is suing casino-goers, it is indeed a first to come across a former Chinese Olympian being sued by them.
Did all that free time on his hand drive him to gamble? Or did he let his compulsive gambling habits get the better of him?
We’ve all seen what gambling can do to drag a person – even a former Olympian champion – down.