Jiaqi Zheng, the 2015 U.S. women’s table tennis national champion, earned the third and final roster spot available to U.S. table tennis women for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games by defeating teammate Chen Wang in the final day of competition at the North American Olympic Qualification Tournament Sunday in Markham, Ontario.
Since the United States already has filled its two individual quota spots with Yue “Jennifer” Wu and Lily Zhang, the 28-year-old Zheng will participate in Rio in the team event only. Her addition reunites a trio that won team gold at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games last summer.
After the first game went to Zheng 11-6, 42-year-old Wang opened well in the second game and led 9-2, but Zheng reeled off seven straight points to even the game at 9-9. Wang gathered herself to pick up the next two points and even the match at a game apiece (11-9), but Zheng’s comeback in that game indicated her determination to secure the ticket to Rio. Wang used her forehand to dig herself out of another hole in the third game, but Zheng was able to fend off the challenge and go up 2-1 with an 11-9 win.
Zheng pushed her advantage to 3-1 with an 11-4 win in the fourth game, but Wang battled back to stave off elimination with an 11-6 win in the fifth. After opening the sixth game matching each other’s points, Zheng began to pull away and closed out the match, 11-6, for the victory and her ticket to Rio.