Every month we profile a different UoN sports scholar. This week, Tin-Tin Ho marks our first interview in the series, detailing her table-tennis beginnings, Tokyo 2020 dream, and how she manages to juggle a medicine degree alongside international table-tennis.
Tin-Tin Ho has always been surrounded by table-tennis – her name was even chosen from the initials of table-tennis! Her father, himself an international table-tennis player for Hong Kong, introduced Tin-Tin to the sport from the age of five, and she has continued to succeed ever since. Since winning her first national singles title at age 17, Tin-Tin’s game has gone from strength-to-strength, competing in the Commonwealth Games in both 2014 and 2018. Indeed, in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealths, Tin-Tin won a bronze model in the Women’s Team Competition, which she describes as “the biggest achievement so far” of her promising career.
Her success did not end there – a silver medal followed in the mixed doubles alongside partner Liam Pitchford. At pains not to name a favourite doubles partner, Tin-Tin did concede her best victory was at the European Championships alongside Carly Mivheet – the sense of community amongst table-tennis comrades is strong, with Tin-Tin known to play “Riptide” on her ukulele for team singalongs!
Tin-Tin has two tournaments to play her way into the Tokyo Games…
Tin-Tin describes the Commonwealth Games as the “closest you can get to the Olympics without actually competing”, however the real thing could soon be approaching. Tin-Tin has two tournaments to play her way into the Tokyo Games, and with international competitions postponed for the past year due to COVID-19, she has been focusing on match-based scenarios during preparatory training.
“if I continue what I’m doing, there’s the potential to shoot up the rankings”
COVID-19 has severely disrupted every athlete’s preparations for Tokyo 2020, however due to her elite status, Tin-Tin has continued training at David Ross as part of Team England. The nations of the United Kingdom come together every four years to compete in the Olympics, a team Tin-Tin desperately hopes to make. With a world ranking of 93, Tin-Tin is hopeful about her chances, and believes “if I continue what I’m doing, there’s the potential to shoot up the rankings” – everyone here at the University of Nottingham supports her attempts to make the Olympic Team!
However, not only does Tin-Tin play elite-level sports competition, she combines this with an intensive Medicine degree. Her best advice to any scholars in sport or elsewhere is to “plan and manage your time effectively”, although Tin-Tin acknowledged she didn’t do this herself at first. She recommends “working out which time of the day you study at your best” and working a schedule around that – for Tin-Tin this is the early morning, leaving time to continue her practise, relax and enjoy some of her interests, such as the ukulele in the afternoon.
Like most sporting challenges in her life, Tin-Tin was able to apply all her tactical knowledge to overcome this challenge
Tin-Tin also believes her game has benefited greatly as part of the University of Nottingham Table-Tennis Club, ranked first in the United Kingdom. Her most recent Women’s National Singles title came against Mari Baldwin, a unique opponent adopting an uncommon long-pimples strategy. Like most sporting challenges in her life, Tin-Tin was able to apply all her tactical knowledge to overcome this challenge – such flexibility and adaptability will surely come in handy as she attempts to qualify for Tokyo 2020!
Tin-Tin’s love of table tennis is clear, her enthusiasm is infectious and she is already giving back to the game she loves. Tin-Tin is a passionate supporter of local sports clubs, which she describes as essential in her development as a player. These clubs are “hugely important for the physical, mental and social well-being of the nation”, hence it is essential they are supported by the government as the country opens up post-lockdown. Tin-Tin has been interviewed by the BBC and “despite feeling nervous at first and being really bad” has blossomed into an excellent ambassador for the game, using opportunities to broaden the appeal of the sport through social media in particular.
At the time of the interview Tin-Tin was preparing for two tournaments in Doha including a qualification event for the Tokyo Olympics. Unfortunately, she lost in the quarter finals to an opponent who is world ranked 32. Other qualification routes are still available and all of us at UoN wish Tin-Tin well as she continues her efforts to board that Olympic plane to Tokyo.
Featured image courtesy of Tin-Tin Ho. No changes made.
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