A London schoolgirl today told how her father’s dream of encouraging her to become a table tennis champion has seen her selected for the Commonwealth Games at the age of 15.
Tin-Tin Ho, from Bayswater, began playing at five and is one of the youngest members of the Team England squad, after being inspired by her “tiger father” Charles Ho.
“I’m really happy and excited,” she told the Standard. “It will be my first Games. It will be a really good experience. I have never competed in a multi-sport event before.”
Tin-Tin, who attends the City of London School for Girls, in Barbican, is ranked number three in England and 376 in the world in a sport dominated by players from China and, in the Commonwealth, by Singapore, Malaysia and India. But she is ranked the most active player in the world, competing in 126 matches last year, of which she won 71 per cent.
Her father used to play internationally for Hong Kong and also taught her elder brother, Ping, 20, now studying law at King’s College London, to play. He named her Tin-Tin because the initials matched those of table tennis, and had considered calling her Pong.
Mr Ho, an accountant, said there was “no surprise” at his daughter’s selection for the Commonwealth Games. “I’m very confident in her performance,” he said. “She is very good. She is number three in England’s senior rankings. She deserves her position.
“I have given her the techniques, The encouragement is from her mother. Her mother has done a very good job. I was a ‘tiger father’, very strict.” Her mother Rita said: “I’m very proud. I’m very happy.”
The basement of the family’s second home has been fitted with a table and competition flooring, while the walls are adorned with medals and pictures – including a visit to Downing Street to meet David Cameron.
Tin-Tin trains two hours a day, six days a week, with her brother and father, and at Morpeth school table tennis club in Bethnal Green. “When I come back from school I train, and then I will do my homework,” she said. She takes her GCSEs next year.
She admitted there had been times when she struggled to match her father’s enthusiasm for table tennis. “He managed to encourage me to still carry on,” she said. She first represented her country aged eight. “Before I didn’t take it seriously. I thought it was a fun thing to do. Then I started playing for England. That was when I wanted to play seriously.”
Her Commonwealth matches start at 9am on Thursday [July 24] – meaning she has to miss Wednesday night’s opening ceremony – and will continue for the next nine days.
Tin-Tin will play singles, doubles, mixed doubles and in the team event. England’s women came fourth in the team event Delhi in 2010. “Hopefully as team we can get a medal, seeing as last time we were so close,” she said. “In singles I don’t really know – I just want to enjoy it and get as far as I can.”