(By Neha Aggarwal/ITTF)
Lily Zhang reflects on meeting President Barack Obama
In the honor of TeamUSA’s success at Rio, all the Olympians and Paralympians were hosted at the While House by the President and the First Lady. Two time Olympian Lily Zhang was part of this historic moment. She reflects on day, which is probably one of the most memorable one!
Lily’s Magical Moment
September 29th is probably one of the most memorable days in the life of Lily Zhang. After her success at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, she had the opportunity to meet, greet and hug the President of the United States of America. Yes, Lily Zhang was part of the contingent of around 600 Olympians and Paralympians that met President Obama and the first lady Michelle Obama at the White House.
She says with a radiating smile, “Oh my gosh, it was just honestly mind blowing experience. When I first saw Barrack Obama, Michelle Obama and Joe Biden, my heart was pounding out of my chest.” She adds,
“It was so cool to be able to talk to the President of the United States, its an opportunity that I will never forget for sure.”
At the White House, she hugged both POTUS and FLOTUS. When asked to describe what it felt like, Lily’s jumped with joy remembering that moment. She said, “You see them in the TV and news all the time, but when you see them up close and personal, they are just normal people like us. It was a great experience”
Rio Olympics: A tribute to the America’s Women Olympians
Applauding the success of the women of TeamUSA, the president said that “2016 belonged to Americas Women Olympians”. Being a part of such a tribute is truly magical. Lily describes,
“Its super empowering to young girls to give them the message that they can do anything boys can do as well”
Indeed, when you are encouraged by the President himself, you feel empowered. Women in or outside sports need to be given the opportunity to dream and then the resources to full fill their dreams. At Rio, American women won more medals than men and this fact is true reflection to the importance women are given in the society.
This incredible feat was possible because of the legislation passed in 1972- Title IX which states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
This one law gave the women of USA the right to play sport and 44 years hence, the success of the law is reflected in the success of the American women at Rio Olympic Games.
Balancing sport and education
Lily is a student of psychology at the University of California- Berkeley. She took time off academics to purse qualifying for the Olympics but will be back to school soon. She admits that it hard to balance both and takes a lot of time commitment and sacrifice. But the 20 year old values education and thus tries her best to maintain the balance.
Lily Zhang, 2 time Olympian and Bronze medalist at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games, undoubtedly has a bright future and with the entire nation backing her, there is no stopping! She now eyes Tokyo 2020!