TOKYO (Reuters) – For Austrian Liu Jia, reaching the last 16 of the women’s singles table tennis event has left her facing a dilemma — she is still in the running to win a medal at the Tokyo Games but her success is delaying a reunion with her 10-year-old daughter.
“My daughter doesn’t care (if I won). She’s not the least bit bothered. For her it’s all about me going home as soon as possible,” the Chinese-born Liu said, adding that her daughter probably did not watch her latest match due to time difference.
“When she heard that I’m facing China in the team event she was especially happy. She said, ‘Lose quickly and come home.’ I can understand that.
“Kids have very simple thinking. Win or lose, just come home. Coming home is the key for them.”
The 39-year-old has beaten a number of younger rivals en route to the last 16, including Syria’s Hend Zaza — who at 12 was the youngest athlete competing in Tokyo — and 20-year-old Puerto Rican paddler Adriana Diaz.
“It seems like I’m bullying the young players,” Liu said, after beating Diaz 4-0 in the third round on Tuesday.
“I controlled her, didn’t give her the opportunity to attack. I played well, although I got nervous at the end. I felt like I was going to pee when I got close to victory.”
Liu, who’s competing at her sixth Olympics, will next face South Korea’s Jeon Ji-hee in the singles and will also compete in the teams event beginning on Aug. 1.
(Reporting by Eimi Yamamitsu, editing by Pritha Sarkar)