While you will need to wait almost two more years to enjoy the pageantry and excitement of the next Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020, you only have to wait until later this month to get an early look at some possible future Olympians.
Sixteen of America’s most promising boys and girls under the age of 18 including 2016 Rio Olympian Kanak Jha and Canada’s top teenagers will gather for the North American Continental Youth Olympic Games qualification tournament on Sunday, December 17 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
At stake in the one day, single elimination tournament will be one spot for the boys and one for the girls in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Oct 1-12.
The Youth Olympic Games debuted in 2010 in Singapore and in 2014 was hosted by Nanjing, China.
In 2014, Lily Zhang claimed the Games first ever table tennis medal for the United States by winning the bronze medal in singles. Of course, Zhang has also twice competed in the Olympic Games in 2012 and just last year in Rio.
With entries closed, among some of the players expected on the American side include the runner-up in Men's Singles of this year's US National Champs - Nikhil Kumar as well as his gold medal teammate from the Hong Kong Cadet competition, Michael Tran. The women’s field includes Amy Wang, Crystal Wang and Grace Wang.
Canada also field strong contenders with this year's Canada Cup Men's Singles champion Jeremy Hazin competing, along with National Cadet Champion Terence Yeung and a host of other promising young Canadian talents like Alexander Bu and Ivy Liao who have been developing since partaking in the 2013 World Hopes Trial together.
All matches are best of 7 games. Play is scheduled to begin @ 10:00 a.m. with the girls’ opening round matches. The girls’ final is slated for @ 6:00 p.m. with the boys’ championship match following @ 7:00 p.m.
The North American Continental qualification event is one of six qualifications events globally, including Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.
The way to Buenos Aires does not end this month for those who did not qualify. A “Road to Buenos Aires” calendar of tournaments next year will give players more additional chances to make the 32 men’s and women’s fields.
But, the first steps will take place this month as the Youth Olympic Games qualifier raises the curtain on a full week of table tennis action with the U.S. Open taking center stage for the remainder of the week under the bright lights of one of the most exciting cities in the world.
The full list of entries (as of Dec 3)