Big Hopes for an Even Bigger Team


A record number of medals will be up for grabs in the table tennis when the Australian Team raise their paddles at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.  

Australia’s team of 14, the largest squad at this year’s Games, will come up against some of the best table tennis nations in the world including the likes of Singapore who have dominated the sport since being introduced to the Games in Manchester in 2002, winning 50 medals, 22 of them gold. 

Currently ranked fifth at the Commonwealth Games, a balanced Australian team will compete for their second gold medal in history after Melissa Tapper sealed Australia’s first at Gold Coast 2018 in the TT-10 class.  

With the addition of men’s and women’s wheelchair events, table tennis will see a record 11 gold medals awarded in Birmingham, seven available in the able-bodied events and four in the para events.  

The quick-thinking reflexes of the Australian team are set to impress with the world’s fastest ball game one of four sports in this year’s Games to be played every day. 

After becoming the first Australian woman to go to six Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020, Jian Fang Lay, a remarkable 49-year-old mother of two who has won seven Commonwealth Games medals since her debut for Australia in Manchester 20 years ago, is among the Australian Team selections.

Lay, who has been a standard bearer for Australian sport for more than two decades, brings great experience to a youthful team and will be striving for a historic gold after successful appearances at Manchester in 2002, Melbourne in 2006 and Glasgow in 2014. She has also competed in six Olympic Games.

Lay, who has four silver and three bronze medals on her Commonwealth Games CV, is excited by the opportunity to compete again at Birmingham and hoping to claim Australia’s first gold medal in table tennis.

“It is exciting to attend my sixth Commonwealth Games, I always love representing Australia on the world stage,” Lay said.

“It is a great group who will be competing with me and I know we will all be working hard between now and the Games to do our best in Birmingham.”

The cult favourite, spanning a career over two decades, will add a certain liveliness to a team full of youth.

She looks to attain her first gold medal at a Commonwealth Games and round out her already impressive medal tally consisting of four silver medals and three bronze.  

Experienced friend and team member Tracy (Chunyi) Feng will join Lay after the pair finished fourth in the women’s doubles in Gold Coast. The pair will have their eyes focused on a medal this time around, both in the singles and doubles.  

Seven-time Paralympian Danni Di Toro has amassed a spectacular career, and now achieves another special milestone as she heads to her first Commonwealth Games and the opportunity to be a part of the fully integrated Table Tennis and Australian Team at the Games.

“I have loved watching the Commonwealth Games from a far during my sporting career and it is amazing that I now have the opportunity to be on the Australian Team in Birmingham,” Di Toro said.

“It is awesome to have both the Para and able-bodied Team Members unified in the one Australian Team and being in the same villages and sharing stories and experiences with one another at the Games.

“We have assembled a great Table Tennis team, and I know we are all going to give it our best over there in Birmingham.”

South Australian Amanda Tscharke is amongst the six players making their debut in the Para-table tennis squad, which takes to 11 the number of first-timers in our full table tennis team.

The working mother of two who lives at Nuriootpa, in the Barossa region, was left paraplegic following an accident in 1997. She has since shone on the national stage, winning a cache of silver medals in athletic pursuits before making the switch to table tennis. An international berth has eluded her – until now.

Fellow debutants Lin MaQian Yang and Lina Lei, who are all based in Melbourne, are decorated athletes and gold medal chances in Birmingham. The trio, who have a combined haul of 23 Paralympic medals, are familiar with the pressures of international competition having represented Australia at the Tokyo Paralympics, where Qian Yang and Lina Lei claimed gold medals and Lin Ma won silver.

Sydneysider Junjian (Jessy) Chen, 32, rounds out the list of debutants, and the selection of the Kurt Fearnley Scholarship recipient is a testament to his hard work and dedication to his sport.

Medals for Di Toro, Amanda Tscharke, Lin Ma, Qian Yang and Lina Lei are in full reach for the decorated para team members who bolster confidence from the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, Qian Yang and Lina Lei claiming gold medals and Lin Ma winning silver. 

The table tennis competition starts on Friday 29 July and will be held at Hall 3 of the National Exhibition Centre. 



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