Lily Zhang Serves as US Flagbearer for 2023 Pan Am Games
by Barbara Wei
Team USA flag-bearers Ryan Santos and Lily Zhang at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games closing ceremony. Santiago, Chile. November 5, 2023.
Lily Zhang already holds many accolades for U.S. table tennis, including 6x national champion, 3x Olympian, 8x Pan Am Games medalist and bronze medalist at the Youth Olympic Games. At the conclusion of the 2023 Pan Am Games, Lily added a new award to her ever-growing table tennis resume: the first USA table tennis player to be voted flag bearer at a Pan American or Olympic games.
The 27-year-old from Berkeley California was voted on by her Team USA teammates to carry the flag alongside Ryan Santos (Rugby). Coming from a smaller sport like table tennis, Lily was surprised to hear the news that she had been chosen as flag bearer. She said that it was “pretty amazing” and a great way to end her 4th appearance at the Pan Am Games.
Ryan Santos and Lily Zhang stand together as Team USA flag-bearers at the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games. Santiago, Chile. November 5, 2023.
At the closing ceremonies, Lily and Ryan stood proud as they carried the flag to the stage. Lily was not the only table tennis flag bearer, as she was joined by Hugo Calderano (Brazil), Paulina Vega (Chile) and Jorge Campos (Cuba). The plethora of table tennis flag bearers reflects the impact of table tennis athletes on their countries and teammates.
The 2023 Pan Am Games in Santiago marked a record performance by Team USA. 403 athletes graced the podium in 43 sports over 15 days of competition. At the conclusion of the games, the U.S. took home 286 medals, the most of the 41 countries in attendance, including 124 golds. 7,000 athletes from across the Americas gathered in Santiago for the games and provided hundreds of heartwarming moments demonstrating the Olympic spirit of competition. The next Pan Am Games will be held in 2027 in Barranquilla, Colombia.