Erica Wu is just like any other 16 year old—she’s preparing for the SAT, she loves watching Glee, and she thinks Michael Phelps is hot. The only difference is that she might just get the chance to meet Phelps when she heads to the London Olympics as a table tennis player for Team USA.
Erica Wu is a natural athlete. She played various sports growing up and loves basketball and skiing. However, she decided to dedicate herself to table tennis after winning her first trophy at the age of nine. Since then, Wu has been focused on making the U.S. Olympic team, a feat that she has successfully accomplished.
Wu will join fellow women’s table tennis players Ariel Hsing and Lily Zhang in London. These are ladies that she knows well, having competed with them and against them in many other tournaments. Wu’s fight for a spot on the Olympic team was not an easy ride. “I lost the first game really badly which was a really bad start. My dad left. My mom wasn’t even there at the beginning. She was in the bathroom for the first three games.” However, despite the rough beginning, Wu rallied back to win the match and a coveted spot on the Olympic team. “I think the most important part [of table tennis] is the mental training. Table tennis is more than 50% mental I would say. Once you get to a certain level, everyone has the skill but it really matters if you’re strong enough mentally.”
When asked what her goals are for these upcoming Olympics, Wu is surprisingly candid. “I know what my goal is not. I’m not going for a medal unfortunately. I want to see the other players and learn from them, and hopefully win a few matches.” Wu hopes to be able to take in the sites of London and watch other events like swimming and fencing.
While Wu may not be a medal contender, she is impressive in many other ways. She manages to balance her hectic table tennis schedule with a rigorous course load. Wu admits that it’s not easy. “When I leave for tournaments, it’s for at least a week and I miss school. It’s really fast paced so I have to do my homework at the tournament. In between matches, I’ll be doing math homework.” Wu hopes to continue to play table tennis in college. She currently has her heart set on attending Stanford University and becoming a vet.
Sports and academics aside, Wu enjoys books and musicals. Her favorite foods are Chinese paigu and chicken noodle soup. She loves playing with her two dogs and cat Casey who she describes as her “stress ball.” Wu is looking forward to the Olympics as well as the well-deserved break that will follow.