Jian Fang Lay makes history as one of first Australian women to compete at 6 Olympics

Jian Fang Lay

Australian table tennis veteran Jian Fang Lay, 48, took on the Olympics for the sixth time. 

Tokyo Olympics: Considered “one of the country’s all-time greats,” Lay competed in her first Olympics in 2000 at the Sydney games and has yet to receive a medal, Fox Sports reported.

  • Lay was added to the roster in June as a replacement for Stephanie Sang, who withdrew for personal reasons, reported AFR
  • She scored 11-7 in six minutes against Cuba’s Daniela Fonseca in the preliminary rounds, according to ABC Australia. She defeated two other players but lost her first match this year against Han Ying of Germany on July 26. 
  • “I never would’ve imagined that I’d be the first woman to represent Australia at six Olympics,” said Lay.

Table tennis history: Lay began playing the game when she was 7 and said she tried to run away to avoid her lessons, but her father continued encouraging her to play. 

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  • She was born in China but moved to Australia in 1994 where she competed in her first Australian national championships in 1995.
  • The table tennis superstar is serving wins with 24 Oceania titles and 30 national crowns and hopes to “inspire more girls to play table tennis.” 
  • She also won the Oceania Cup three consecutive times from 2017-2019 in addition to winning seven Commonwealth Games medals, according to her Olympics profile

Olympics history: Her first Olympic win came when she defeated Croatia’s Cornelia Vaida in Athens at the 2004 Games. 

  • Lay’s best singles tournament was in Rio when she beat Russia’s Maria Dolgikh and Austria’s Sofia Polcanova in the competition’s opening two rounds. 
  • She is one win away from “setting a new benchmark for her best-ever Games, having already equalled a third-round effort at Rio,” reported AFR. 
  • “What a fantastic Olympic milestone to announce Jian to her sixth Olympic Games,” Australia’s Chef de Mission Ian Chesterman said. “To make one Olympics is a special achievement. To stay at the top of your game for decades to make six Olympics is a truly rare feat.” 

Featured Image via World Table Tennis (left), ACE Online (right)

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