Home Young table tennis prodigy Cruz sets sights on Paris Olympics

Young table tennis prodigy Cruz sets sights on Paris Olympics

Young table tennis prodigy Cruz sets sights on Paris Olympics

Table tennis player Kheith Rhynne Cruz is ready to face the challenge in her bid to compete in the Olympics in Paris.

The 17-year-old will join the Europe Open in Czechia (April) and the Asian Championships in Thailand (May), both qualifiers for the Paris Games set from July 26 to Aug. 11.

“I will play mixed doubles with John Nayre at the Europe Open. We need to perform well because only the top four will get slots for Paris. In the Asian Championships, I will play in the singles, and I must win the tournament to get an Olympic berth,” shared Cruz during the Usapang Sports forum of the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports, Inc. (TOPS)

Cruz is currently world No. 66 in the Under-17 category. Last December, she won the World Table Tennis Youth Challenge U19 title in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

“The challenge is tough, but I am ready. I want to repay the trust and support of my countrymen and my sponsors, who continue to believe in my ability,” the Grade 12 student from Paco Citizen Academy Foundation said during the weekly session.

She added, “That’s why I focus on training and benefit from the opportunities playing abroad.”

Cruz is determined to follow in the footsteps of her idol, the late Ian Lariba, who saw action at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“If I get lucky this year, it will be a blessing. But if not, I’ll target the next Olympics. My dream is to follow the success of Ate Yan-Yan (Lariba),” she said. 

Lariba was only 23 when she died on Sept. 2, 2018, following a year-long battle with acute myeloid leukemia.

Cruz won open singles and mixed doubles at the Sacramento Winter Open Table Tennis in January and four medals at the Silicon Valley Table Tennis tournament in February.

“I’m super proud to compete in a world-class tournament. I’m so inspired to play. I hope the support will continue so that I can continue training in the US,” Cruz said.

She will soon return to California to train at the Triple 8 Club Center, managed by Filipino migrant Ivy Spencer.

Cruz also thanked her supporters, led by the Table Tennis Association for National Development and Joola and Xiom. 

This Korean company produces a wide range of high-quality and professional table tennis equipment.


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