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Monday, February 13, 2012
Teens advance to Olympic table tennis trials


Teen Ariel Hsing is one step closer to the Olympics.

The 16-year-old has one chance to make the 2012 Summer Olympics in table tennis. That opportunity will come in April in Cary, N.C., where eight athletes from Canada and the United States will compete at the North American Trials for two berths to the London Games.

Two of the other three women's spots also went to teenagers: 15-year-old Lily Zhang and 15-year-old Erica Wu. That trio -- plus four-time Olympian Gao Jun, 43 -- will return to Cary for the continental trials in April, with the top two women advancing to the Olympics. But the teens, who each finished 9-2 at the U.S. trials, face a tough task.

"I thought I couldn't make it after I lost my second match," Hsing said Monday on a conference call with reporters. "It was definitely new experience for me to come back from such a difficult time."

Hsing has been a rising star since 2010, when she became the youngest-ever U.S. champion in women's singles. She won again in 2011, and also took home two bronze medals from the Pan American Games in October in Mexico. She trains three to five hours a day, six days a week.

"I was raised to believe that talent doesn't make a person successful," she wrote in a diary for espnW. "When I was 7 years old, I was told I had talent by a coach I met when I tagged along with my parents to a local table tennis club (they couldn't find a sitter that night). I later found out he told everyone they had talent. So I learned early on it wasn't a matter of being gifted. It's always been about hard work and dedication."

Read Ariel's full blog.