The April student of the month, Sophomore Luvena Huo, has earned the chance to try out for table tennis for the Olympics this year, bringing her a step closer to her dream of becoming the first American to bring home an Olympic medal.
“The Olympic trials were unreal! I am so thankful I had the opportunity to go, and even now, I still feel like it might’ve been a dream. It was really intense, and it really motivated me to work harder,” said Huo. “I understand that there is still a long journey before me, but I can’t wait to get started!”
Huo has ranked as high as number four for under-14 girls and number 12 for under-16 girls in the U.S.
Some of her competitions and achievements include:
2015 US Open: quarter-finalist in Cadet Girls’ singles
2014 US National Championships: semifinalist in Junior Girls’ teams and quarter-finalist in Under-21 Women’s Singles
2014 North American Berkeley Open: first place in Under-18 Girls’ Singles
2013 US Open: semifinalist in Junior Girls’ teams
2012 North American Berkeley Open: first place in Under-22 Women’s Singles
Many would assume that one would have to start training for a sport in their toddler years in order to even have the chance to try out for the Olympics, but Huo is a living example that it’s never too late to start.
“A few years back in 2010, my ice skating friend, Katie Lin, mentioned to me offhandedly that her mom got a ping pong table and they had nowhere to put it, so I told her that she could keep it at my house. From then on, we would just hang out at my house, and her mom would teach us ping pong about once a week,” stated Huo.
In order to improve and get to this extraordinary level in ping pong, Huo had to put in a lot of work. Although recently her focus on school has caused her to train less, she used to train about 20 hours a week. Huo is now on the US Cadet Girls’ team.
However, sweat and tears can never be avoided in any sport, activity or hobby.
“I get frustrated a lot. I think there was a period of time when I would cry after almost every match I lost. I still cry after losses in tournaments. There isn’t really a way to not feel frustrated. You just have to channel your frustration into working harder during training to win next time,” mentioned Huo.
Huo is also motivated to work harder through her role models.
“My favorite ping pong player is Zhang Jike, a Grand Slam champion, and formerly number one in the world! I admire his style and power, but I think my role models would be my coaches and friends. When I see them work hard, it also pushes me to strive for more,” stated Huo.
Other than achieving her goals, Huo also wants to encourage others to join her in her love for ping pong.
Huo explained, “Ping pong is generally a sport that people don’t think very highly of in the US, and I just want to tell everyone to please not judge the difficulty level of the sport just because of the size of the table or the size of the ball. If anything, the small ball makes everything harder. The ball can travel up to 70 miles per hour, and usually spins about 150 revolutions per second. You should definitely play this sport!”
Huo continues to work hard towards her dreams, so make sure to cheer her on.