The Olympic underdog you’ve never heard of: Aussie mother-of-two, 48, who is competing in her SIXTH Games storms through to third round of the table tennis
Australian mother-of-two Jian Fang Lay has marched into the third round of the women’s table tennis tournament in Tokyo, extending a bright start to her record-equalling sixth Olympics.
The veteran upset Poland’s 28th seed Li Qian in a six-game struggle on Monday, winning 11-7 11-6 5-11 10-12 11-4 11-4.
The 48-year-old faces Germany’s 12th seed Han Ying, a quarter-finalist at Rio 2016, on Tuesday.
Fang Lay is one win away from setting a new benchmark for her best-ever Games, having already equalled a third-round effort at Rio de Janeiro.
But this run is already arguably more remarkable, coming after she initially missed selection for Tokyo.
Australian mother-of-two Jian Fang Lay has marched into the third round of the table tennis
Fang Lay was only added to Australia’s Olympic contingent in late June as a replacement for Stephanie Sang, who withdrew for personal reasons.
In doing so, she equalled equestrian veteran Mary Hanna’s record mark of representing Australia at six Olympics.
Fang Lay lost momentum after dropping the third and fourth games of Monday’s 52-minute match, but quickly steadied and had no issues closing out the win.
The China-born Victorian had six match points up her sleeve but needed only one, celebrating with a fist pump and big smile.
Fang Lay moved to Melbourne in 1994, competed at her first Australian national championships in 1995 then made her Olympic debut in Sydney 2000.
Fellow Victorian David Powell was outclassed in his round-two loss to Slovak 24th seed Yang Wang.
Powell, who went down 11-4 11-4 11-3 11-3 in 29 minutes, will return to the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium for Sunday’s men’s team event.
Fang Lay is one win away from setting a new benchmark for her best-ever Games