As expected, the list of 2020 Tokyo Calympian is getting longer and longer.
The latest addition to that growing list, by the virtue of being the top ranked USA women’s table tennis player in the world, is Cal alum Lily Zhang. Zhang is ranked 28th in the ITTF World Rankings.
Despite not being a Cal sponsored student-athlete (although she apparently did play some for the Cal club team), we have featured Zhang here as a 2016 Rio Calympian. Cal fans can also see an even younger Zhang as one of the featured athlete in the 2014 Documentary Top Spin (it’s free on Amazon Prime after being on Netflix for years).
Since graduating from Cal with a degree in Psychology in December 2018, Zhang has become one of the rare US table tennis athlete to turn pro. This meant a move to Germany where she now plays for the Women’s Table Tennis champs in SV DJK Kolbermoor, who are based just outside Munich, after spending some time first with TTG Bingen/ Münster-Sarmsheim.
While Zhang also made the Olympic in 2012 London and 2016 Rio, she is getting even stronger as a potential 2020 Tokyo medal contender. In a rare feat that’s accomplished for the first time in 47 years, the Palo Alto born Lily Zhang became the first US born woman to win the US Open in late December of 2019 from Fort Worth, Texas. It was a dream come true for Zhang, who also has 5 US national titles to her table tennis resume, as she defeated Japan’s Mayuka Taira in the women’s singles final.
Best of luck to Lily in her preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games!
Since I also go out to Germany (Karlsruhe) for my day job in physics, I shall see if I can try to catch Lily Zhang in one of her pro match maybe in the end of March or early April. Unfortunately, even the top ranked Bundsliga teams in table tennis are all located more in the suburbs than the city center (I did venture out of my way to attend a men’s match last year).