From July 28 to August 8, 2012, the ExCeL Exhibition Centre in the London Borough of Newham, England will be the site for the London 2012 Olympic Games Table Tennis competition. Combining subtlety, power, accuracy, and lightning-fast reflexes, table tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1988. Out of 24 available gold medals for table tennis in the history of the Olympics, 20 out of 24 have gone to China.
One woman who is seeking to stake her claim on the United States Olympic Team is San Jose, California native Ariel Hsing. At just 15 years old, Hsing is the youngest United States Women’s National Champion in history and has her eyes set on representing her country in 2012.
At just 5-5 and 110 pounds, this 2011 USA Table Tennis National Team member has taken part in and won major competitions all around the world. Going to countries such as China, Japan, Canada, South Africa, and Chile, some of Hsing’s most impressive accolades are being 2011 North American Cup Champion, 2010 U.S. National Championship ‘” Women U22 Champion, and the 2010 Junior and Cadet Open ‘” Cadet Girls Singles and Doubles Champion in both Ecuador and Italy.
Hsing has been playing the sport since the age of 6 and has always wished to be a part of the Olympics. To help her reach this goal, she recently took part in the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. In preparation for the event, she practiced and trained 22 hours per week, much of which took place at the Indian Community Center (ICC) in Milpitas, California. At the ICC, owner of the facility and Hsing’s coach Rajul Sheth, a veteran of the Indian national team, works with Dennis Davis, Stefan Feth, and Xibo Liu to coach Hsing to her potential.
A “two wing attacker,” Hsing is comfortable attacking with backhand or forehand. Playing close-to-the-table, she uses a paddle with the rubber inverted on both sides and employs a shake hand grip to control and elusively dominate her opponents. Despite her unassuming personality, Hsing’s quite vocal and expressive at the table, screeching the word “sa” before a point to relieve tension and pumps her fist after a point in celebration.
Despite her dominance in the sport in the United States and especially her age group, Hsing is still going through qualifying tournaments right now to see if she will earn a shot to compete in the London 2012 Summer Olympics. Amidst schoolwork, international competitions, and a teenage social life outside of the sport, Hsing is quite the athlete aspiring to make the Olympic Games as a teenager.