Timothy Wang Interview

By Rahul Acharya | July 12, 2016, 12 a.m. (ET)

Timothy Wang (TX, USA)

Timothy Wang, a 25 year old native of Houston, Texas, is a "veteran" on the U.S. Olympic Team. Lily Zhang and Tim are the only two members to already know what it is like to represent their country in the Olympics. Tim played singles at the 2012 London Olympics and is now ready to take on Rio.

Now, after knowing about Tim's long list of accomplishments, it is hard to believe that he had to be bribed by his parents to play table tennis when he first started. However, with the support of family, friends, and coaches, personal commitment, and a lot of hard work, Tim has become a highly respected player in the table tennis community. I sat down to ask Timothy Wang a few questions. I hope you enjoy getting to know him!

Quick facts about Timothy Wang:
Highest USATT rating 2648
U.S. Olympic Team Member (2016 and 2012)
U.S. Men's National Team Member (2015 and 2014)
Three-time U.S. Men's Singles Champion (2013, 2012, 2010)

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Timothy Wang, 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Member
Photo: Thorsten Goal
With U.S. Olympian and National Team Member Timothy Wang 
1. Congratulations on making it to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team! How does your current pre-Olympic preparation compare with that from 2012? Do you think that you are better prepared this time?
Thanks! This time I feel much more prepared. At the last Olympics, I was so nervous and had no idea what to expect. This time around, I have a better mind set. I've worked on a lot of things over the last four years, so we'll see what happens!

2. During the 2012 Olympics, you were eliminated in the preliminary round. Does that memory scare you, or are you one of those who don't delve into the past, or do you use history as a teacher? What is your philosophy as a player in terms of past performance? 
Generally, I like to use history as a teacher. I believe there is always something you can learn from a loss. However, I have the tendency to over analyze things. Lately, I've just been trying to stay focused on moving forward and not getting stuck on my mistakes.

3. Is there still something remaining on your practice checklist prior to Rio, or have you done everything that you had planned to do?
There's still a lot of work to do in terms of things to work on. My coaches and I are doing our best to get me ready for the event.

4. Who do you have the best chemistry with on the U.S. Olympic Team?  
I have a good chemistry with everyone on our Olympic team. We hang out together, talk, and play cards. They're all great people, and we get along really well.

5. I saw pictures from the recent Olympic team media training event. Would you say that you are a shy person, or do you like the spotlight?
I would say that I am generally a shy person. I usually get really nervous before an interview, and I stumble sometimes getting my ideas straight. Although, as the years have gone by, I feel that I've gotten a lot better at interviews.

6. Great! Let's go back to when it all began ... Tell us about how you started with table tennis.
For me, table tennis started out as a family sport. My parents would take my two older brothers to play, and I would tag along. It's funny, as a kid I really didn't like to play at all. My parents would have to buy me a pack of pokemon cards in order for me to take lessons.

7. What equipment do you currently use?
Blade: Butterfly Viscaria
Forehand rubber: DHS Hurricane 3
Backhand rubber: Butterfly Tenergy 64

8. I'm sure Rio is your top priority right now, but once it is behind you, what are your long-term goals?
Rio is definitely top priority right now. After Rio, my goal is to rebuild the table tennis culture in Houston. We don't really have a junior scene anymore. In the past, Houston had a history of strong players at the junior and senior level. It would be amazing if I could continue that history in the next generation.

9. Do you ever see yourself coaching down the road?
Actually, I do. Currently, I am working on opening up my own table tennis center back home in Houston. Renovations are almost done, and we should be open soon!

10. Is there one moment in your career that you would describe as the best, a time when you were the happiest? 
There have been many moments in my career that have been special to me. I am very lucky to have achieved so many different titles. Although, if I had to choose one, I would say my first Men's National Championship title in 2010 for many reasons. The most important is that my parents were there to witness me win my first Men's singles title. My dad was the one who suggested I take a few years to go pro. It was a great feeling being able to win with him there, even though he was so nervous, he couldn't watch. :)

11. Who is your favorite international table tennis player? Why?
My favorite international player would have to be Jun Mizutani. In my opinion, he is the most talented player in the world. He is also the most entertaining player to watch.

12. If you could go back in time and get a "do-over" for any one match from any tournament that you have ever played, which one would that be? Why?
There was the one doubles match last year at the Pan American games. We were playing against Puerto Rico in the team event, and my legs cramped. That was our biggest chance to win a medal.

13. Couple of rapid fire questions:
Talent or hard work? Hard work
Best chance to win - player with skills or player with confidence? Player with skills
21 point games or 11 point games? 11 point games
Poly ball or celluloid ball? Poly ball
To cho, or not to cho? Cho

14. What you like to do when you are not playing table tennis?
I recently started hiking while I was living in Atlanta. It's quite difficult, but the satisfaction of making it to the top is really nice. Plus the amazing view!

15. Anything else you would like to add?
Be sure to watch Team USA, and cheer us on at the Olympics. 

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Tim, once again, congratulations on making the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, and good luck in Rio! Go Team USA!