For Immediate Release
January 10, 2008 Leibovitz and Cretu Win Respective Qualifying Rounds and Advance to Main Bracket of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Table Tennis in Philadelphia, Pa. COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.-Tahl Leibovitz (Oxone Park, N.Y.) and Razvan Cretu (Philadelphia, Pa.) each finished first in their respective qualifying rounds of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trails for Table Tennis, which is being held in Philadelphia, Pa. Leibovitz and Cretu will now join the top 10 ranked U.S. in a round robin tournament. The top-four finishers from the Trials will move on to the North American Trials, April 4-6, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where they will compete against Canada for the final Olympic selection slots for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China. Leibovitz, a two-time Paralympian, is now trying to earn a spot at the Olympic Games. Top U.S. table tennis players are competing for a potential U.S. Olympic Team spot, January 10-13, at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Table Tennis on the campus of Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pa. The event, which will be held at the Daskalakis Athletic Center on the Drexel campus, combined with the U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Gymnastics coming to Philadelphia in June 2008, makes Philadelphia one of only two U.S. cities to host two U.S. Olympic Trials events leading up to the 2008 Olympic Games. The top-four finishers from the Trials in each division will move on to the North American Trials, April 4-6, in Vancouver, Canada, where they will compete alongside Canada for the final Olympic selections. There are three North American spots for both men and women available for selection to the 2008 Olympic Games. All three men's positions will be decided in Vancouver, while just one more spot remains for the women. The men's top-ranked player is Ilija Lupulesku (Chicago, Ill.). Lupulesku was the 1988 Olympic silver medalist in doubles for Yugoslavia. Considered one of the best players in the sport,"Lupi"made up one-half of what many regarded as the greatest doubles team ever assembled. Between 1989 and 1991, Lupi and doubles mate Zoran Primorec reached the semifinals or finals of every major tournament in the world. But by the end of 1991, war tore through the region and the Croatian Primorec and Yugoslavian Lupulesku were no longer permitted to play together. While Primorec moved on to live and play in Belgium, Lupi remained in Yugoslavia and joined the military, where he continued to train. The 40-year-old is looking to earn a trip to his sixth-straight Olympic Games, and the second as a U.S. citizen. Other notables on the men's side includes Yinhua Cheng, (Boyds, Md.) a 2000 Olympian, David Zhuang (West Windsor, N.J.), a three-time Olympian and reigning U.S. Champion, Khoa Nguyen (San Jose, Calif.) and Mark Hazinski (Mishawaka, Ind.), 2004 Olympians. On the women's side, the top-ranked athlete set to compete is four-time Olympian Jasna Reed (Fort Worth, Texas). In 1988 and 1992, Reed competed for Yugoslavia and won a bronze medal in women's doubles at the Games in Seoul. She became a U.S. citizen in 1999 and competed for the U.S. Olympic Team in 2000 and 2004. Also competing will be 2004 Olympian Whitney Ping (Beaverton, Ore.). Not participating will be the USA's top-ranked women Jun Gao (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Wang Chen (New York, N.Y.). Gao, a former Chinese table tennis star who won a silver medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, qualified for a spot this past summer by winning the 2007 Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro. She is currently the 13th-ranked player in the world. Chen qualified her spot by virtue of being the 17th-ranked player in the world following the release of the International Table Tennis Federation's January 2008 world rankings. The top-20 ranked players in the world get an automatic spot at the 2008 Olympic Games. A roster of all athletes competing at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Table Tennis has been provided below. Competition began today, Thursday, January 10 with a qualifying tournament to determine the top-12 athletes in each division. The official Trials event runs January 11-13, with round robin matches beginning at 10 a.m. on the first two days and 9:30 a.m. on the final day. Each match will be played best of seven games. The Philadelphia Local Organizing Committee for the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials-Table Tennis consists of Drexel University, the Philadelphia Sports Congress, Philadelphia Convention , Visitors Bureau, Philadelphia Olympic , International Sports Project, and the area table tennis community. Philadelphia boasts an impressive track record of hosting many premier sporting events, including the 2005 and 2006 NCAA Men's Lacrosse Championships, 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup, 2002 NBA All-Star Game, 2001 U.S. Gymnastics Championships, 2001 and 2002 ESPN X Games, 2000 NCAA Women's Final Four, the Army/Navy football game and the 1998 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Participants-Men Name City, State
1 Ilija Lupulesku Chicago, Ill. 2 Yinghua Cheng Boyds, Md. 3 David Zhuang West Windsor, N.J. 4 Mark Hazinski Mishawaka, Ind. 5 Eric Owens Oakbrook Terrace, Ill. 6 Khoa Nguyen San Jose, Calif. 7 Adam Hugh Warren, N.J. 8 Han Xiao Germantown, Md. 9 Yu Shao White Plains, N.Y. 10 Sean Lonergan Germantown, Md. 11 Samson Dubina Canton, Ohio
12 Joseph Cochran South Bend, Ind. 13 Tahl Leibovitz Oxone Park, N.Y. 14 De Cong Tran Jackson Heights, N.Y. 15 Razvan Cretu Philadelphia, Pa. 16 Trevor Runyan Martinez, Calif. 17 John Leach Erie, Colo. 18 A.J. Brewer South Bend, Ind. 19 Shashin Shodan Newark, Calif. 20 John Wetzler York, Pa. 21 Justen Yao Chesterfield, Mo. 22 Ameresh Sahu Germantown, Md. 23 Alexander Yao Chesterfield, Mo. 24 Robert Shahnazari Glendale, Calif. 25 David Fang Somerset, N.J. 26 Lim Ming Chui Pennsauken, N.J. 27 Don Hamilton Kettering, Ohio
28 Charlie Sun Rockville, Md. 29 Joseph Goldstein Potomac, Md. 30 William Cowan, Jr Newtown, Pa. 31 Nick Norlen Langhorne, Pa. 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Participants - Women Name City, State
1 Jasna Reed Fort Worth, Texas
2 Yao (Crystal) Huang San Gabriel, Calif. 3 Nan Li San Jose, Calif. 4 Jacqueline Lee San Francisco, Calif. 5 Judy Hugh Warren, N.J. 6 Whitney Ping Beaverton, Ore. 7 Ariel Hsing San Jose, Calif. 8 Olena Sowers Athens, Ohio
9 Barabara Wei Gaithersburg, Md. For more information, please contact Kevin Neuendorf in the USOC Communications Office at (719) 866-4786 or contact John Tomsich of Drexel University at (215) 895-2084.