July 24, 2021 12:21:11 am
When Tin-Tin Ho enters the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, she would be fulfilling a prophecy her father made the day she was born. Naming her ‘Tin-Tin’ was in itself a way of determining a future career in table tennis for her. And on Saturday, when the Briton plays Manika Batra in the first round of the women’s singles event, she will mark her debut at the Olympics – the grandest stage for the sport.
The name ‘Tin-Tin’ has nothing to do with the famous Belgian cartoon with the same name. Instead, it was all about the initials ‘TT,’ matching ‘table tennis.’
“Tin-Tin in itself is quite a strange name. People keep asking, ‘like, the cartoon?’ Then they think it’s a boy’s name because of the cartoon,” she had told The Indian Express during the 2015 Commonwealth Championships in Surat.
“They get quite surprised when I explain my name. For them, table tennis is just a hobby or a holiday game, not something taken too seriously.”
But the 22-year-old has made the sport her own. Ranked World No. 94, Ho is the top women’s player in Britain. When she was 14, she paired up with Liam Pitchford to win silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. She paired up with Pitchford again to repeat the feat four years later at Gold Coast – in addition to the bronze in the women’s team event at the same competition.
Born in London to parents from Hong Kong, Ho shared her father’s, Charles’, love for the sport. He trained her at their home from the time she was five. What she might have had a problem with, however, is if her father got his way with the name he originally wanted to give her.
Her elder brother is named Ping, and Charles wanted to name her ‘Pong’ – for ping-pong.
“I’d have tried to change it if that was the case. So, I guess Tin-Tin is still better than Pong,” she said, claiming her brother, who was pursuing a career in law, was thinking of changing his name to ‘Peter’ to sound “more professional.” (Instagram suggests he hasn’t gone through with the name change, yet).
What saved Tin-Tin from being named after the second half of a table tennis moniker was her mother’s intervention. And the youngster mentioned that her mother was not entirely pleased with her daughter being named ‘Tin-Tin’ either.
“The Mandarin meaning is ‘sky,’ so I guess she let Dad give me the name,” Ho added.
Table tennis, though, is not the only career she sees for herself. The medical student hopes to one day become a doctor. But she’s in no rush. The Olympics come first.