by Olalekan Okusan
Originally from Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, China, approximately two hours by train from Beijing, Zhang Mo, now 31 years old, has been a considerable force on the Pan-American scene for well over a decade, following her move from China to Canada.
A Pan-America Cup and Pan-America Games gold medallist, Zhang is gearing up for her seventh ITTF Women’s World Cup appearance where she will line-up alongside the sport’s finest players.
How did the Canadian star’s sporting journey begin? It turns out family influence played an important role in Zhang’s introduction to table tennis with the support she gained from her grandfather and mother rooting her in the sport:
“Being born in China wasn’t needed to influence me to have an interest in table tennis but, I loved it when I first came across it. My grandfather and my mom introduced me to table tennis and they supported me. The uniqueness of table tennis is that it has a lot of uncertainty during the game. To remain on top of the game, I must work as much as I can do to maintain my level.” Zhang Mo
Boasting an outstanding record over the course of her career, Zhang not only possesses a gifted on-court attitude but has achieved much even with a four-year absence from the sport. The time away from the professional scene allowed Zhang to focus on her academic studies, emerging with a degree in Accounting.
Despite her absence from the professional scene during that period in time, Zhang impressively led her country to three consecutive outings at the Olympic Games from 2008 to 2016, and has claimed a ticket to next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
Happy to see young and exciting talented players beginning to emerge, Zhang embraces the challenges that come with being a leading name in the country’s table tennis set up. Not ready to put her racket away anytime soon, her eyes are firmly fixed on Tokyo:
“The important thing is the coming Olympic Games. Then, I will plan the next after the Olympic Games in Tokyo. I am under pressure from young players, but I think the pressure mostly comes from myself because I always compare and challenge myself to better my past results.” Zhang Mo
Canada’s highest ranked player on the ITTF World Rankings list, Zhang has enjoyed her fair share of continental success and has represented her country on the world’s biggest stages many a time.
Aside from the vast collection of medals under her possession, Zhang can’t quantify what she has gained from table tennis down to a single moment – for her, every moment on the table is an unforgettable and celebratory occasion:
“Table tennis has allowed me to meet many people from different countries and have so many amazing moments during the tournaments. I like to go to different places with friends or stay at home to enjoy self-time. Table tennis is my favourite sport. It has covered my life until now – my life philosophy is do what I like to do and do my best. I have had too many memorable moments because every time when I stand in front of the table, is a memorable moment.” Zhang Mo
For someone who holds the sport as a huge part of her life, Zhang Mo was understandably disappointed with the lockdown brought about earlier in the year by the COVID-19 pandemic, ultimately keeping her away from the table. However, the Canadian made the best use of her time in quarantine, continuing to push herself hard in an attempt to stay right on top of her game.
“I just tried my best to keep up my physical training, while practising at my local club.”
Half a year’s absence from international table tennis action, ITTF proudly confirmed the sport’s return with #RESTART, a series of prestigious events featuring the world’s biggest stars.
Zhang’s name is amongst the entry list for the upcoming 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup, and the Canadian can’t wait to make her impact known when she takes to the stage:
“I’m glad that I was selected for the World Cup to compete in international events again. I also feel pleased that ITTF provides this “bubble” event to make us feel safe. The return of international competition will encourage me to keep training intensively to compete well.” Zhang Mo
We can’t wait to see Zhang Mo in action when she meets the world’s elite at the 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup!