|The playing arena|
Youth Olympic Games 2014, Nanjing, China
Coming through her group in first place was the first hurdle but Zhang was well prepared, largely in part to having high quality practice partners organised to help her every step of the way. Here is a clip of her training with a high level Chinese practice partner on the table adjacent to China's Youth Olympic Games competitor.
In her group Lily worked hard and had victory against her opponents, including stiff competition from her South Korean opponent. She advanced into the round of 16 where she faced Lisa Lung from Belgium. While Zhang always maintained a lead in the match, her opponent showed determination throughout and the match stretched to 6 games before Lily closed out with a convincing 11-5 win to end the match 4-2.
Into the quarterfinal stages and Lily was edging ever closer to her goal of achieving a medal finish. Her opponent Tamolwan Khetkhuan from Thailand, again Lily took off to a strong start. The sets in this match were close and her opponent really kept the pressure on each point. Lily showed a high level of mental strength to close out the games by winning the crucial points. While the Thai player was able to steal away a set in the match, it was Lily who showed she is a force to be reckoned with who claimed the 5th game 11-3 to win 4-1 and advance to the semifinal round.
Lily moves on to play against Doo Hoi Kem, the top seed from Hong Kong. Of course we wish her the best of luck and hope she achieves her goal of a Youth Olympic Games medal!
Be sure to keep up with all the action on ITTF and the YOG Live Blog!