Table tennis player Jian Fang Lay has made history at the Tokyo Olympics, joining Mary Hanna as the only Australian women to compete in six Olympic Games.
Lay, 48, won against Poland’s Qian Li in the women’s table tennis singles draw on Monday, and will proceed to the third round of competition.
“The coach kept saying ‘more patience, more patience’,” Lay told Table Tennis Australia, after the win. “It just feels amazing. She is a European champion, so I am so happy to have won.”
While Lay is now recognised as one of Australia’s most consistent and long-lasting Olympic athletes, her achievements over the years have flown under the radar. She made her Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000.
Most people won’t have heard of her, but 48-year-old Jian Fang Lay made it through to the 3rd round in the table tennis today. BUT more impressively this is her 6th #olympics, equalling the most ever by an Australian female 🙌🏼 pic.twitter.com/RqRw5ZBiAg— James Mottershead (@mottersjames) July 26, 2021
Born in China before moving to Australian in 1994, Lay is one truly one of the nation’s greats in table tennis. She has won 13 international competition medals, including 7 Commonwealth Games medals, 24 Oceania titles and 30 national titles.
Before the Games began, Ian Chesterman, Chef de Mission for the Australian Olympic team, said her achievements are inspiring.
“What a fantastic Olympic milestone to announce Jian to her sixth Olympic Games,” Chesterman said.
“To make one Olympics is a special achievement. To stay at the top of your game for decades to make six Olympics is a truly rare feat.
“Congratulations to Jian on reaching this next chapter in your Olympic career and to your family, coaches, supporters, friends and teammates who will no doubt be cheering you on in Tokyo from back home.”
Jian Fang Lay will take on Germany’s Han Ying at 4.30pm on today (Tuesday), in Round 3 of the women’s table tennis singles. Don’t miss it!