San Diegan Eyes Olympic Gold (Maybe After He Can Drive)

11-year-old wants to win America's first Table Tennis medal

Table Tennis became an Olympic sport in the 1988 Seoul Games. Since then nobody from the United States has ever won a medal in the event.

San Diego’s own Ted Li wants to be the one to change that. Li won the Open Division championship at the California State Games on Saturday. Not bad for an 11-year-old.

Li beat several players two and three times his age en route to the title. The gold medal he won over the weekend is probably not the only one he’ll earn in his career. He’s already the number one-ranked 11-and-under player in the country and is in the top-5 in the 13-and-under rankings. Once he was introduced to the game it didn’t take him long to get hooked on it.

“My dad one day brought me to Balboa Park when I was like four or five,” said Li. “I liked it.”

He started working with coach and realized not only did he like it … he was really good at it. So he went all in on it.

“I like it because there’s a lot of competition,” said Li. “It’s not a long game. A match doesn’t take as long as, say, a basketball game or something so it’s funner for me. I always want to be better. I always like to play.”

Li says his goal is to be an Olympian. If he stays on his current course that’s a distinct possibility, but no matter what he’s found a sport he will likely be playing for a lifetime.

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