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Local Olympic Spotlight: Can Fort Lee’s Jennifer Wu Make Table Tennis History for Team USA?

Jennifer Wu (Photo courtesy of ITTF)

Jennifer Wu (Photo courtesy of ITTF)

 

In the Olympics, underdog stories are always taken in by international viewers. The U.S. 1976 women’s 4X100m swimming relay team overtaking the East Germans, The Magnificent Seven in Atlanta, and have you ever heard of the Miracle on Ice? Well in the long history of underdogs, Jennifer Wu may be the biggest one, but she is looking to put her name in the history books in Rio.

Wu moved to the United States in 2008 after being born in China, where she took up table tennis at age eight. Her mother entered her into the sport because she had heard that it could improve her daughter’s eyesight after playing too many video games had ruined it. That decision would change Wu’s life forever. She kept on practicing, and began to play on the international stage under the Chinese flag in 2007.

Going into the Pan-Am games in 2015 she was unranked, and the lowest seeded player in the tournament. However, she went on to win the competition, which punched her ticket to Rio. She added a victory in the Canada Open in 2010, as well as becoming the North American World Cup champion this year.

Going into the Olympics, Wu is ranked only 146th in the world by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). While this is due to her not entering many ITTF competitions, it still does not bode well for her medal chances in Rio. Just to add more opposition to her goal, no American has won a medal of any color in any Olympics in table tennis.

She isn’t even the most decorated American table tennis player in the draw, but she could make the tournament interesting. While her Pan-Am title was shocking, it wasn’t against some of the top Asian and European players, which will be her main threat in Rio. Either way, she has the talent to compete in every match, and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see her go far, and upset some much higher ranked opponents. If she does, she has the opportunity to add her name in the annals of one of the great underdog stories in the illustrious history of the Olympic games.

Wu continues to train in Beijing before big tournaments, that way she can go against more credentialed opponents than those that she would face in the United States. She moved to the U.S. hoping to see more of the world, and became an American citizen in 2014. She has also become very good friends with 30 Rock actor Judah Friedlander.

 

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Daniel Popoloski

Daniel Popoloski

Dan is a Staff Writer here at DoubleGSports.com with a focus on Team USA and the Rio Olympics
Daniel Popoloski
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