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Miao Miao takes aim at history

24 October 2013

TABLE TENNIS: Australian table tennis icon Miao Miao is on the verge of creating history.

The Chinese-born Miao Miao, who moved to Australia in 1997, is about to begin the qualifying process for her fourth Commonwealth Games, and is already eyeing off a record-equalling fifth Olympic appearance in Rio in 2016.

This year 32-year-old Miao Miao is once again the number one ranked female player in Australia and Oceania.

This week Miao Miao will lead the Australian team in the annual Bennelong Cup, a round-robin tournament involving players from Japan, Korea, China and Australia. The event kicks off in the Great Hall at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday, before moving to Ryde in Sydney on Friday and Saturday night.

This year has been one of the busiest in Miao Miao’s career. She’s been a national coach for Australian and Oceania junior teams for three years, combining that with her role as a professional player.

And this year she decided to go back to University to study a sports development course.

It’s been an exciting ride for Miao Miao since she caught the nation’s attention as a 19-year-old at the Sydney Olympics. She made the quarter finals in the doubles, which automatically made her and partner Shirley Zhou Australia’s most successful Olympic table tennis competitors.

But with records beckoning for the Melbourne-based player, she’s not ready yet to hang up her paddle. She’s chasing beach volleyballer Natalie Cook’s record of five Olympics, and should bring that up in Rio.

“Sure I’m interested to try and equal the Olympic record,” she said.

“I’m just proud to play for Australia in such a big event.”

Before that it’s the Commonwealth Games next year in Glasgow, with a strong chance of more Australian medals.

“I have received silver and bronze medals before, and I know if we prepare well again we can be in with a show for the medals,” Miao Miao said.

“Maybe not a gold, because Singapore is really strong. They won the team events at the World Championships, and they have very professional training, have a lot of funding, and go to a lot of major International events every year.

“It’s a bit tough for us, but they will be more nervous than us in Glasgow, because they’ll be expected to win. We won’t have as much pressure.”

After four Olympics and three Commonwealth Games, one wouldn’t think pressure is something Miao Miao is too worried about.

Ross Solly