Table tennis may not be prime time viewing for all Olympics fans, as tonight's Closing Ceremonies in London likely will be. But Team USA Table Tennis is gaining new followers by acting as ambassadors for their sport and country by playing their favorite game with kids in East London.
"There were a few players out there who could really play so that was a good surprise," said Team USA player Ariel Hsing.
Sixteen-year old Erica Wu is the same age as many of the Tower Hamlets kids and teens she's meeting. For the first-time Olympian, this is her chance to make an impact beyond the arena.
"It's really great to come out and spread the sport since table tennis isn't as popular here as in like Asia or something, so it was really fun meeting all the kids," she said.
Some on the all-teen, table tennis team have made it to the Olympics before learning to drive a car -- and while still doing their math homework!
"It's a little bit difficult especially when it's finals time or something and you have to juggle practice and school work and studying," said Erica. "But I think it's totally worth it making it to the Olympics. It's been such an amazing experience.""After I finished my first match...everyone was just shouting USA, USA, they had all of those flags up there and it was just incredible I never saw anything like it," said Ariel.
That's why, for these kids, the chance to meet Olympians their-own age is special. And so is the message they're hearing.
"Find something that you love and once you realize that you love doing, and really enjoy doing it all the time just put all your hard work into it," Ariel told the East London teens. "One day you'll be successful. Forget about the result and just worry about the process for now."Editor's Note: This entry appeared first on the U.S. Embassy in London's blog.
Benjamin Baird serves at the U.S. Embassy in London.