Two B.C. table tennis athletes, Mo Zhang and Ivy Liao, are among the six players who have been chosen to represent Canada at the upcoming Santiago 2023 Pan American Games this fall.
The Pan American Games selection tournament took place from June 2 to 4 in Mississauga, Ont., where 32 athletes competed for the chance to represent Canada. The selected members form a diverse mix of seasoned veterans and rookies, all set to make their mark in the major Games.
Mo Zhang, a four-time Olympian based in Vancouver, will be competing in her third Pan American Games and building on her impressive achievements from Lima 2019, where she secured three medals, including a gold in the mixed doubles category.
Born and raised in Vancouver, Ivy Liao is thrilled about the opportunity to compete at the Games. Liao has been playing table tennis for around 15 years and competed in Lima in 2019.
“That was one of the most significant table tennis experiences of my career so far. Being able to represent Canada at a multi-sport event on the international stage is always an honor,” Liao said.
“It’s been really motivating throughout the past four years to achieve this goal. Now I’m on the team and preparing to try my best to represent Canada. At the games in October and November, I’m very excited and I’m very determined.”
To secure her position on the Canadian team during the selection tournament, Liao went through the intense round-robin stage, finishing second in her group. She then progressed to the knockout stage, where she secured her place by winning the match for third place.
It was an intense experience but the result was thrilled, Liao said. She was grateful for the opportunity.
“Canada has always been a strong presence in the Pan American field for table tennis… my goal is to help Canada earn at least one medal. Whether it’ll be the doubles event or the singles event, though singles will be quite a bit more challenging, I will be preparing well in the next few months. I’ll try my best to help Canada achieve those results.”
The 2023 Pan American Games will take place from Oct. 29 to Nov. 5 at the Centro de Entrenamiento Olímpico. The event holds special importance as the gold and silver medallists in the mixed doubles category will directly qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Additionally, athletes competing in individual events will earn points for their world ranking, a crucial factor for Olympic qualification.
“It is with great anticipation that our athletes will take part in the Pan American Games in Santiago. Both our men’s and women’s teams are ranked fifth in the Americas. The team is a good mixture of experienced players and very young players. Hopefully our young players will learn from their experienced teammates and raise Canada’s level internationally in the future,” said Adham Sharara, president of Table Tennis Canada.
“Let’s unite behind this skilled table tennis team that combines the experience, wisdom and unwavering determination of our veteran athletes with the fresh energy and raw talent of our newcomers as they gear up for the Pan American Games,” said Christine Girard, Team Canada’s Santiago 2023 chef de mission.