Thursday, Jul. 24, 2008

47. Guo Yue

Table Tennis

Guo Yue has already made a mark on one of China's most storied sports. Born in the frigid northeastern province of Liaoning, Guo picked up a paddle at age six and started working her way through the rest of China. It didn't take her long. She rose through provincial competitions to a spot on the national team in 2000. Wins at the World Championships in 2007 against Li Xiaoxia and first-ranked Zhang Yining secured Guo's reputation as one of the golden girls of the game. She will play alongside Zhang as one of three members on China's women's team. The youngster on the team, the left-handed Guo is also the only one who hasn't won an Olympic gold. Zhang won both singles and doubles at Athens. Her doubles partner at Athens and Beijing teammate Wang Nan won golds in singles and doubles at Sydney. The fiercest competition is expected from the Republic of Korea and a fast-rising Singapore. Guo suffered a disappointing loss to Singaporean Li Jiawei at the 49th World Team Table Tennis Championships earlier this year. The pressure is on to see if Guo can win at Beijing and preserve China's historic dominance of the sport.