USATT NewsHigh Performance News

Lily Zhang is the First to Qualify for the U.S. Olympic Table Tennis Team

by Joshua Dyke

Lily Zhang at the 2024 ITTF Pan American Cup Corpus Christi, Texas. January 19–21, 2024.

Singles: Lily Zhang competing at the 2024 ITTF Pan American Cup held at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. January 19–21, 2024.

Leading the way to the 2024 Summer Olympics in table tennis is none other than Lily Zhang. Her qualification marks the first American player to claim their spot for Paris 2024.

Zhang directly qualifies for the U.S. Olympic Team because she is the highest ranked female player in the United States and is within the top 50 of the International Table Tennis Federation rankings as of March 1.

At just 27 years old, the California native now boasts a record-tying fourth appearance at the Olympic Games, sharing the achievement with David Zhuang as well as current USA Table Tennis High Performance Director and National Team Head Coach, Gao Jun.

Zhang impressively made her first appearance in the Olympics at age 16 in London during the 2012 Summer Games. She’s followed suit ever since, competing in Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020. Next up for Lily is Paris 2024.

As for the remaining positions on the Women’s U.S. Olympic Team, two more athletes will join Lily Zhang in Paris, France. Those athletes will be selected at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Table Tennis from March 21–24 in West Monroe, Louisiana.

There are high hopes for table tennis to earn its first Olympic medal for the United States, more so since the U.S. is coming off solid performances in the Pan American region, especially on the women’s side. Leading into Paris 2024, the Women’s National Team took gold at the 2023 Pan American Championships, gold at the 2023 Pan American Games, and most recently, bronze and silver at the Pan American Cup at the beginning of 2024.

Seoul 1988 debuted table tennis as an Olympic sport, and since its inception, the United States has yet to medal at the games. Paris 2024 could be the year for Team USA, especially because a skilled veteran like Lily Zhang will be leading a talented and overachieving group of women into competition.