Olympics: 2024 in Paris and 2028 in Los Angeles

5
Aug

My certificate for representing USA at the 2000 North American Olympic Trials against Canada.

The IOC has awarded Paris to be the host city for the 2024 Olympics and Los Angeles for the 2028 Olympics. This is the first time that the IOC has awarded two cities at once as there are growing concerns from potential bid cities that the Olympics leads to financial trouble and leaves the venues unused after they are done. However, the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles was one of the only times the Olympics left a budget surplus. This led to free programs for youth in Los Angeles including a program that led to Serena Williams and Venus Williams starting tennis. The Los Angeles 2028 Olympics key people have said free programs for youth is one of their goals again. Paris and Los Angeles are the only two cities to be awarded the Olympics 3 different times.

Table-tennis will undergo a change for Tokyo 2020 as mixed doubles will be added but the number of athletes in table-tennis will remain the same. Players already qualified will form mixed doubles teams. I do not know if any new changes for table-tennis have been planned beyond that for 2024 or 2028. In 2008, the team event was added to replace doubles.

I personally will likely try for Tokyo 2020 as Vladimir Samsonov and Jorgen Persson making the Olympic semis at ages 40 and 42, respectively, gives hope to me and other older players. Cheng Yinghua played 2800 (top 50 world level) at age 41 to finish first at the 2000 North American Olympic Trials. David Zhuang was the lone US male representative in the 2008 Beijing Olympics qualifying at age 44 and played 2700 (top 100 world level) at the trials and at the Olympics where he lost narrowly 4-3 to the eventual 9th place finisher in men’s singles. I’m not sure about 2024 or 2028 for me but table-tennis players have likely longer careers than most sports. Although players do slow down in foot speed and hand speed as they age, table-tennis is more skill-based than many sports.

I’m not sure if I have made a proper attempt for the Olympics since 2000 as I have not practiced and played enough tournaments which are key for playing well due to my busy coaching schedule. I have lots of losses to players now who I would never lose to before when I was training seriously. For 2000, I took 3 years off college to train full-time, 1.5 years directly before the trials and time off before that also with the 2000 Olympics in mind. In the first stage of the Olympic trials in 2000, I had to win 3 matches in a row to qualify for the final stage and won all 3. In the final stage, I played 2700 in my two matches that counted in singles (I had my only other match against a Canadian ranked around #300-400 in the world where I was ahead 2-1, 20-17 and had 4 match points and lost but that match didn’t count as we were both eliminated). I was the only American to win a game against former Chinese national team member 2800-level and top 50 world-level Cheng Yinghua representing the US  and was two points from beating Taiwan’s former top junior 2700-level Kurt Liu representing Canada who was ranked in the top 200 in the world. Both Cheng and Kurt qualified for the 2000 Sydney Olympics by finishing #1 and #3 in the singles trials with the top 3 qualifying. I was also beating the Swedish elitserien players at Angby and Falkenberg in practice at the time so was playing 2700 in many practice matches also. In the doubles trials, I finished 3rd out of 8 teams at the North American Olympic Doubles Trials with the top two teams qualifying but doubles performance doesn’t always translate equally to singles. I don’t know if I will be able to practice enough and play enough tournaments to prepare for 2020 due to my heavy coaching schedule although it’s still something that is a goal of mine. The younger players are getting better and there may be many Chinese professional players who become US citizens so making the Olympic team is still a tall task. I would of course have to start performing much better than I currently do when I do play.

Here’s 44-year old David Zhuang’s Game 7 of his close 4-3 match at the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Nigeria’s Segun Toriola. Toriola ended up beating former World #1 Jean-Michel Saive in the next round and then lost narrowly 4-3 to Olympic medalist Oh Sang-Eun of Korea in the final 16:

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