Jennifer Wu came to the United States with hopes of playing world class table tennis and experiencing the world. In 2008, she was only 19 years old, and came to America to live on her own. Her parents were naturally uneasy about letting their only child live a separate life halfway around the world. She’s done pretty well for herself though, earning the first seat on the 2016 US Olympic Table Tennis Team!
We did a brief interview with Jennifer before she left to train for a month in China.
How did you celebrate winning Pan Ams and earning your Olympic spot?
My friends took me out to lunch, dinner, and drinks afterwards. It was fun to go out and be with friends. Ding Ning (Chinese National Team) WeChat messaged me shortly after the Pan Ams to congratulate me and joked that I got my Olympic spot before her.
Now that you’ve reached your goal of making the Olympic Team, do you have any new table tennis goals?
Now that I’m a US Citizen, I’m excited to compete at US Nationals for the first time in December. Next summer, I don’t want to just attend the Olympics, I want to win!
What’s your usual training schedule and how is it changing as you prepare for the Olympics?
I typically train 3-4 days a week. When I train in China, I’ll be practicing every day and add on physical training. I also plan on playing all the remaining ITTF Pro-Tour.
How do you get ready for a match?
It’s different every time. I try not to keep a routine because that’s how you get superstitious and I think it’s more important to believe in yourself. I’ll listen to music before a match, but nothing too calming. I’m also working on a new serve and hope it’ll be ready when I come back from China.
What inspires you to play every day?
As an athlete, I always want to play at my best and the most effective way to do that is to practice constantly. To be an Olympian, you have to work hard to stay ahead of the curve and that’s what motivates me to train every day.
What is your advice for young girls starting out in table tennis?
If you love table tennis, keep playing and never give up. The three most important things I attribute my success to are
1.) Having confidence.
2.) Mental toughness.
3.) Applying strategy.
What do you like to do when you aren’t table tennis training?
Coaching and training keep me pretty busy, so when I’m not catching up on sleep, I like to relax by watching movies or going out to eat with friends, especially in Flushing! They have really good Chinese food!
Do you prefer Jennifer or Yue?
I identify with Yue the best because it’s my given name, but it’s easier to go by Jennifer in English-speaking situations, especially now that I’m an American.
What’s your favorite thing about being an American?
Having the freedom to pursue my dreams!