Two time Olympian Lily Zhang will head to Triangle Table Tennis Center, NC at the end of this month to compete in the US National Team Trials, 23-26 March. Four women and four men will qualify for the 2017 ITTF Leibherr World Table Tennis Championships to be held in Dusseldorf, Germany. If successful, Zhang will head to her 8th World Table Tennis Championships, an amazing achievement for an athlete her age, her first WTTC at just 12 years of age.
The three time US National Champion took a moment to talk about her ambitions for the trial. Despite having trouble finding time to train whilst attending the University of California, Berkeley, Lily is ready to 'just go and give it my all', fortunately she will have plenty of experience behind her including competing at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
"I definitely think that the experience of competing in two Olympics will help me. Those experiences have taught me how to toughen up and understand how to handle difficult situations better. I am hoping that even without the training I would have liked, I can use my experience and mental game to help me push through."
Despite being distracted by University study and life, Lily's passion is still as clear as ever as she spoke about her ambitions for adding another WTTC appearance to her growing list, "I'm still always thrilled and honored to be able to represent my country on arguably the biggest world table tennis stage out there. It's a feeling like no other. I've been to 7 World Championships, so if I make the team this would be my 8th."
She will face tough competition from a small but highly competent field of athletes, one of which is her Rio Olympic teammate Wu Yue, the 2015 Pan Am Champion and 2016 North American Champion. Alongside Wu will be 2008 Beijing Olympic Quarterfinalist Wang Chen and a host of other US senior and junior representatives. Lily recognizes "every single player competing in the trial is extremely strong and capable," and admits she won't be underestimating anyone as she fights for the top spot.
"I am confident in my own abilities to overcome tough obstacles and I'm ready for a challenge!"
We wish Lily and the field of players participating in the US National Women's Team Trial the very best of luck and look forward to seeing some exciting table tennis matches!