From the USA Table Tennis site comes this article:
About a month ago, Lily Zhang’s seventh-grade history teacher at Jordan Middle School challenged her to a game of ping-pong.
Usually, it’s the teacher who provides the student with an education. In this case, it was the other way around.
And the teacher quickly learned his lesson.
Zhang, 12, quickly disposed of Mr. LaSala in six games to 11, as about 25 people stood around the school’s table and watched.
“I let him have a few points,” a giggling Zhang said of her favorite teacher.
She might be young, and she might be small — she’s 5-feet tall and weighs just 81 pounds — but many believe Zhang could be the “next big thing” in American table tennis.
Zhang is the national champion in both cadet (under 15) and junior (under 18) ranks and is among the top 10 players in the country overall. She also qualified for the senior national team in 2009.
The seventh grader may have been the youngest competitor at the World Table Tennis Championships this spring in Yokohama, Japan. Zhang was selected to join the five-person Team USA as a coach’s choice.
Zhang, of Palo Alto, Calif., competed in the doubles, mixed doubles and singles competition. Not bad for a kid who picked up the sport five years ago, at the ripe old age of 7.
Zhang has a few more weeks left of school before heading for a one-month trip to China, where she will train and play in some junior tournaments.
“They have more players there and they also practice a lot more than we do here in the U.S.,” Zhang said.
After that she returns home and then heads to Canada for the North American Championships, all before heading back to the Bay Area and starting her eighth-grade year.
Her eventual goal is to compete in the Olympics, perhaps as early as the 2012 Games in London.
Outside of the sport, Zhang tries to be a pretty typical preteen. She loves to read and hang out with her friends, and she really enjoys Mr. LaSala’s history class.
For table tennis, Zhang works out about 18 hours per week, but she has the drive to succeed and willingly sacrifices her spare time to practice table tennis.
We’ll definitely keep an eye on Zhang along with the six year old girl in the following video who looks like she’s training for the 2020 Olympics!