Written by Veronica Noronha
There are only a few people in the world who can say they have represented Canada in the Olympics and Pan American Games. Eugene Wang, is one of them! In fact, Wang did it four times – at the 2012 Olympics in London, the 2015 Pan American Games at the Markham Pan Am Centre, in 2016 at the Olympics in Rio, and most recently at the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima, Peru.
Wang, a York Region resident, has been playing Table Tennis for more than 20 years and although he has travelled the world, he is a familiar face at the Markham Pan Am Centre. The 2015 Pan Am Games, where he achieved a bronze medal in men’s singles, was his first appearance at the sport complex and since then, Wang has trained and competed here multiple times. Our sport complex has become a high-performance training centre and hosting venue for sport events ranging from international to community levels. When asked about the facility, Wang says, “it is just perfect. I wouldn’t change a thing.”
We caught up with Wang at the Benemax Virgo 2019 ITTF North America Open and asked him to share highlights from his career and what it is like competing among the worlds’ best athletes. One obvious high point is making it onto the Canadian National Olympic team. He learned quickly that qualifying is just the beginning and his biggest lesson occurred at his first Olympics, where he allowed his game to be thrown off by distractions, such as famous marquee athletes, being in a new country, and the pressure of playing in the most watch sport event around the world. From that experience, he committed to changing his approach. First, he aligned his arrival in the hosting country by just a few days before his matches. Second, he ramped up his training program, which includes seven hours on the table and 1.5 hours of physical training, daily. After months of this schedule and leading up to the 2015 Pan Am Games, he says, “I knew I had a chance to do something in the single matches. I was really focused on the game and pushed myself beyond my physical limitations.” This kind of discipline lead him to win two bronze medals. He has kept up with his rigorous training routine and his hard work continues to pay off. At the 2019 Pam Am Games he won gold in mixed doubles and bronze in men’s singles.
Wang’s advice to any athlete with a desire to make it onto a national team is to be disciplined. He says, “you really need to push yourself beyond your limits.” He also firmly believes in respecting fellow athletes. “Everyone experiences hard times. That is why we have to honour each other. No one is born a champion athlete and everyone has to work on it and perfect their skills,” he says. To Wang, this is the spirit of sport.
Wang plans on continuing to play for as long as possible and in 2019 began coaching the next generation of Table Tennis champions. We look forward to seeing Wang on the circuit for many years to come, whether it is on the table or coaching from the sidelines.