Revitalised veteran Tie Yana aims to compete in fourth Olympics for Hong Kong
The 36-year-old is back in form after winning three medals, including one gold, during a European swing
Despite being a veteran of three Olympic Games, Tie Yana’s competitive spirit is as strong as ever, evidenced by the medals she displayed on her return to Hong Kong on Monday after a successful tour of Europe.
Tie, 36, won three medals in two World Tour events – a singles gold and a doubles silver at the Hungarian Open and a doubles bronze in the German Open – which will strengthen her claim to represent Hong Kong at her fourth Games in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics this summer.
“The Olympic Games is always the biggest target,” said Tie, whose first Olympic appearance was at the Athens Games in 2004. “No matter how many times you have been to the Olympics, you still want to go there one more time.
“The gold medal has proved I can still play at the highest level. Although my fitness cannot compare with my younger days, I have been working extremely hard on improving it, especially since the birth of my son in late 2014.”
Tie needed seven full games to defeat South Korea’s rising star Yang Ha-eun in the Hungarian Open final, her first world tour title in six years, having won the same event in 2010.
It is also the longest gap between wins for a women’s singles player in the history of the table tennis world tour.
“The record is not the most important thing,” said Tie. “I always want to set an example for my son that whatever I do, I will do to the best of my ability.
“It would be great if my son can see me on television competing at the Rio Olympics.”
Hong Kong can send a maximum three players to the Olympic Games for the team and singles events but there are four players in the women’s team. Tie, however, said there was no bad feelings among the players.
“We all know there is competition among us but this is normal,” she said. “We need competition to push us to get better.
“I was the number one in the squad previously but as I grow older, there will be new faces challenging my position.”
Tie had praise for two up-and-coming players in the squad – Lee Ho-ching, 23, and Doo Hoi-kem, 19 – saying the duo had shown immense talent from an early age, while she said her doubles partner Jiang Huajun was also a force to be reckoned with.
Lee also collected a bronze medal in the singles of the German Open.
“My experience always counts but I still have to work very hard to keep my standard because all of us want to go to the Olympic Games,” said Tie.
There will be 11 berths up for grabs for Asian nations when the Olympic qualification tournament takes place in Hong Kong in April. In May, the world governing body will also announce the remaining 22 berths according to world rankings.