A Bundoora table tennis star is set to make history at the 2021 Olympic Games.
Jian Fang Lay will join Equestrian’s Mary Hanna as Australia’s first women to compete at six Olympic Games for the nation.
Fang Lay, 48, was announced last month as the replacement for Stephanie Sang, who withdrew from table tennis team.
Fang Lay said she “never would’ve imagined” making history, and hopes her achievement can inspire others.
“I hope this will inspire more girls to play table tennis,” she said.
“As long as you have a dream, anything is possible.
“I’ll make my team proud, give it my all, and fight for every point.”
Fang Lay said her family was a large motivation for her.
“I need to thank my family – husband and two boys – my friends – Warren and Jane – that support me and keep me going,” Fang Lay said.
“Without their support, without their strength, it would’ve been impossible for me to continue playing table tennis.
“My family keeps me motivated – table tennis is our family sport.
“The boys really enjoy it and we always play in the garage.
“Without their support, I would never be where I am today.”
Fang Lay is currently ranked as the world number 156, according to the International Table Tennis Federation ranking system.
Fang Lay’s top ranking was number 51 in October 2018.
Fang Lay said her father is responsible for her love of table tennis.
“My father was the one who got me into table tennis when I was six years old,” she said.
“He really liked the sport and he was the one who encouraged me to play.
“He trained me and made me fall in love with the sport.
“And ever since then, I’ve never stopped playing.
“I owe it all to him.
“Where I am today is all thanks to him.”
Fang Lay is considered one of the country’s table tennis greats, with 13 international competition medals, including seven Commonwealth Games medals, 24 Oceania titles and 30 national titles, earned across her decades of competing.
Fang Lay will be joined in Tokyo by Michelle Bromley, Melissa Tapper, Chris Yan, David Powell and Heming Hu.
Fang Lay said she would continue to play table tennis for a long time.
“Table tennis is a good exercise for the mind, for fitness, and for reactions,” she said.
“Everyone enjoys it. And for that reason, I’ll continue to play table tennis.”
Speaking of her goals for Tokyo, Fang Lay said she would simply try her best.
“My goal is to do the best I can and get the best result for Australia,” she said.
“Anything is possible.”
Fang Lay will compete in the women’s teams and singles events at the Games, which begin on Friday, July 23.