Table tennis veteran Jian Fang Lay selected for her sixth Olympic Games

The 48-year-old athlete is bound for Tokyo 2020 and will become one of only two women to compete at six Olympic Games for Australia

Picture by 2018 Getty Images

The Olympic Games is on the cards again for Jian Fang Lay - for the sixth time.

Replacing Stephanie Sang who dropped out of the team, Fang Lay will be part of Team Australia's table tennis powerful line-up which includes Michelle Bromley, Melissa Tapper, Chris Yan, David Powell and Heming Hu.

Marking a historic milestone, the 48-year-old joins Equestrian athlete Mary Hanna as the first women to represent the nation in six Olympic Games.

"I am very excited for Tokyo, I am so proud of what I've achieved. It's unbelievable," Fang Lay said.

"I never would’ve imagined that I’d be the first woman to represent Australia at six Olympics. I hope this will inspire more girls to play table tennis. As long as you have a dream, anything is possible.

"I need to thank my family – my husband and two boys – my friends, Warren and Jane, who support me and keep me going. Without their support, without their strength, it would’ve been impossible for me to continue playing table tennis.

"My goal in Tokyo is to do the best I can and get the best result for Australia. Anything is possible. I will fight for one point at a time," she added.

Jian Fang Lay

A sporting great

Born in Wengzhou, China, Fang Lay moved to Australia in 1994 and was selected for the national team.

In just six years she made her Olympic debut at the home Games in Sydney 2000 where she competed in the doubles alongside Stella Zhou.

In Athens 2004 she competed at both the singles and doubles event, and secured her first win when she defeated Cornelia Vaida from Croatia in the first singles round.

She went on to win her singles opening rounds in Beijing 2008 and London 2012 but relinquished her momentum in the team events in both Games.

In Rio, she defeated Russia's Maria Dolgikh and Austria's Sofia Polcanova in the opening rounds of the competition.

Whist Fang Lay has not yet been able to medal in any of the Olympic Games she took part in, she has 13 international competition medals under her belt including seven Commonwealth Games medals, 24 Oceania titles and 30 national titles titles.

And in the next few weeks, we'll see Fan Lay take the Olympic stage for the sixth time to compete in the women's teams and singles events.

“What a fantastic Olympic milestone to announce Jian to her sixth Olympic Games,” said Ian Chesterman Chef de Mission for the Australian Olympic Team for Tokyo. “To make one Olympics is a special achievement, to stay at the top of your game for decades to make six Olympics is a truly rare feat.

“Congratulations to Jian on reaching this next chapter in your Olympic career and to your family, coaches, supporters, friends and teammates who will no doubt be cheering you on in Tokyo from back home.”

The table tennis competition takes place from 24 July - 6 August at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.

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