This is Wang Chen. She plays table tennis for the States. And she frickin' RULES.
For whatever reason, whenever I turn on USA or Universal HD, they're showing table tennis. And more often than not, it has usually been a Wang Chen match. So it is by pure serendipity that I have discovered this awesome talent.
Her backstory is fantastic. She was born in China and was at one time the #4 ranked player in the world. But she was never chosen to play for China at the Olympics because numbers 1 through 3 were also from China so she was passed over twice. She eventually emigrated to the States in 1999 and started teaching table tennis at a club on the Upper West Side for $40 an hour in order to make ends meet. The club was owned by a holocaust survivor, Jerry Wartski, who had become a successful business man in New York. He eventually renamed the club Wang Chen's Table Tennis Club, which is apparently very popular in NYC (McEnroe plays there), and convinced her to come out of retirement and try to make the US team. She did and now, at age 34, she's come home to China to represent America. Apparently she walked in the opening ceremonies with a Chinese flag on one cheek and an American flag on the other.
And she's having a fantastic tournament. Wang Chen won her Round of 16 match last night and is now the first American to ever make it to the quarterfinals at the Olympics. After she won she dropped to her knees and started sobbing uncontrollably.
Now I know what you're thinking. You're reading the headline of this post, you're looking at the picture, and you're going "huh?" First of all, shame on you! Second, what I mean is that she has the same style of game that Ana has. She plays a fairly aggressive style of play wherein she works to try and set up her big forehand kill shot. It's a really cool thing to watch. Or as it's described:
A right handed shakehand attacker, Wang Chen uses inverted rubber on the forehand to loop and short pips on her backhand side to drive the ball.
Yeah, I have no idea what that means. But how about this quote from Wang:
She made the junior national team when she was 13, quick by Chinese standards. “The coach already liked me,” Wang said. “I had long arms, long legs and a good serve.” (Now 5 feet 10 inches, Wang is one of the taller female competitors.)
Sound like someone you know?
Anyway, if you get a chance to watch any of her matches you should do so. She's such a great story and I hope she can make it to the semis. She has a great chance as the draw has allowed her to avoid the Chinese players, who she admits are "unbeatable". She plays a woman from Singapore on Thursday night.
Sigh. I love the Olympics.
UPDATED: Unfortunately I jinxed Wang Chen and she lost today. But that's ok. She still made history and she seems really ecstatic.