Palo Alto High student earns Olympic berth in table tennis


It may be tough for Palo Alto High student Lily Zhang to return to her normal class schedule for the remainder of the school year. She just might have other things on her mind.

Like, for instance, competing in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.

Zhang, 15, made the final day of the North American table tennis qualifier a good one for her country by claiming the final Olympic berth with a victory on Sunday in Cary, N.C.

Zhang beat Canada's Anqi Luo in a five-game women's final for a spot in London.

"It feels like I've been waiting for this opportunity for so long. It's been my dream ever since I was a little kid," Zhang told The Associated Press. "And now that it's finally here, I just feel like it's still a dream."

The 15-year-old Zhang joined San Jose's Ariel Hsing -- her teammate and friend from the Palo Alto Table Tennis Club who earned her spot Friday -- as American women qualifying for the Olympics. Zhang said her first competitive match was against Hsing when they were the only two girls entered in the under-10 class of a tournament.

"So I lost to her, but I got second and I got a trophy, which was pretty nice," Zhang said with a laugh.

Zhang and Hsing both train at the ICC Table Tennis Club in Milpitas.

"We're a really good team, too, especially since we go to the same club," Zhang said. "The whole U.S. team, we're really good friends, so it's a great friendship thing and we really support each other."

Olympic berths for three men and two women were on the line during three days this past weekend at Cary's Bond Park Community Center.

Zhang, who was born in Palo Alto in 1996, was a 2011 US National Championship finalist and won a bronze medal at the Pan Am Games in '11.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Associated Press

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Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 23, 2012 at 12:17 pm

That's great, but can she beat Leland Levy?

Like this comment
Posted by Gunn Parent
a resident of Gunn High School
on Apr 24, 2012 at 10:22 am

Congratulations, Lilly! Great job! We'll be rooting for you!

Like this comment
Posted by Paly Mom
a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Very impressive. My congratulations and good luck to you Lily.

Like this comment
Posted by Former London Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 25, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Congratulations to Lily!!! However, the last place I'd want to be this Summer is London. What with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations to be followed by the Olympic Games; London is going to be very overcrowded and very expensive.

Also, the location of the Olympic venues is hard to get to. If you plan to go, don't rent a car, you'll never find anywhere to park. Just rely on the "Underground", or the new cable car across the River Thames. At least they speak English if you get lost!!!!

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