Sun Yingsha

Photo: YouTube/World Table Tennis

Sun Yingsha: China's Table Tennis Prodigy Eyes Gold at the 2024 Paris Olympics

She has been selected to represent China in both the singles and team events at Paris 2024, setting the stage for what could be a career-defining performance.

If you're new to the world of table tennis, then Sun Yingsha is a name you need to know. At just 23 years old, she's already the world's top-ranked female player and shows no signs of slowing down. Born in Shijiazhuang, China, Sun's rise to the top has been nothing short of meteoric, and she's now set her sights on the 2024 Paris Olympics, where she hopes to clinch the one title that has eluded her so far - Olympic singles gold.

Sun's journey in table tennis began at a young age, though the exact details of her start in the sport aren't widely known. What is clear, however, is that her talent was evident early on. In 2015, at just 14, Sun won the singles title at the Junior National Championships, catching the eye of national selectors who promptly recruited her into the second-string national team.

But it was the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires that truly launched Sun's career. She credits this experience as a crucial turning point, saying, "It was a very important turning point for me, as (before YOG) I didn't have much experience in major competitions”. 

Since then, Sun has been on a roll. In 2019, she had her breakthrough at the senior level, claiming titles at the Japan Open, Australian Open, German Open, and Asian Championships. But it was at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics where Sun truly shone. At just 20 years old, she became the youngest Chinese table tennis Olympian since Yue Guo in 2008. Sun clinched silver in the women's singles event and gold in the team event, solidifying her status as a table tennis prodigy.

Sun's dominance has continued unabated. She's held the world number one ranking since July 2022, with only a brief seven-week interruption in early 2022. Her most recent triumph came at the 2023 Asian Games in Hangzhou, where she swept the competition by winning gold in the women's singles, team, and mixed doubles events.

Looking ahead to the Paris 2024 Olympics, Sun is laser-focused on claiming that elusive Olympic singles gold. "The Olympics only take place once every four years," Sun notes to Olympics.com, fully aware of the limited opportunities to fight for this prestigious title. She has already been selected to represent China in both the singles and team events at Paris 2024, setting the stage for what could be a career-defining performance.

But Sun’s impact extends beyond her achievements on the table. At 23, she's already become a role model for her peers and younger athletes.

"Sometimes before the college entrance examinations, I actually think even though I'm not in the same career as them, I feel the same pressure and the same tension (from competitions). I actually understand them very well, so I think I'm quite proud of myself being able to be their role model," Sun shares.

As Sun Yingsha continues to dominate the table tennis world, one thing is clear - we're witnessing the rise of a true sporting legend. With her combination of skill, determination, and mental toughness, there's no telling what heights she might reach in the coming years. The Paris Olympics are just around the corner, and you can bet Sun will be there, paddle in hand, ready to claim that elusive singles gold and cement her place in table tennis history.

Photo: YouTube/World Table Tennis