Yue “Jennifer” Wu arrived in the United States in 2008 to see the world. Along the way, she discovered her second home in New York.
Wu will see more of the world when she heads to Rio for the Summer Olympics as a member of the U.S. table tennis team.
“The Olympics is my dream, so that is why I worked so hard,” said Wu, who began playing table tennis at 8 years old. “That is my dream come true.”
When the 26-year-old arrived in the Big Apple from her native Beijing, she had yet to realize how much the city would influence her in the quest to make her dreams a reality.
Wu, who previously played for the Beijing women’s team. overcame adversity and cultural barriers in the process, which made qualifying for her first Games even more rewarding. She turned heads by plowing through the women’s singles field at the Pan American Games in Toronto last July, defeating six opponents in an average of 32 minutes per series and losing only three games on her way to the tournament final.
In the winner-goes-to-Rio final against Brazil’s Lin Gui, Wu met great resistance from the 2012 Olympian. With the best-of-seven championship round tied at three games apiece, Wu came out on top, 11-7. She raised her arms in triumph, a moment she called “amazing” after her 61-minute marathon series victory.
Upon arriving in Manhattan from China, Wu coached at the Wang Chen Table Tennis Club on the Upper West Side for two years.
Wu now resides in New Jersey and occasionally coaches at the New York Indoor Sports Club in College Point, stopping by to practice once or twice a week. She believes training at the largest club in New York helps her prepare for tournaments.
As Wu trains for Rio, she has increased her practice regimen from three times a week to five. Recently, she returned to China and visited Japan to hone her craft.
The U.S. has yet to medal in Olympic table tennis, and simply making it to Rio is not enough for Wu.
“Playing in the Olympic Games is my first dream,” she said. “I really wanted to go there to play. Right now, I have another goal. I want to play the best in the Olympics. I want to be great. I don’t want to go there just to be there.”