Singapore's Lei Yao (L) and Shinta Mulia Sari play against Taiwan's Cheng Wen Hsing and Chien Yu Chin during their women's doubles group play stage badminton match at the Wembley Arena during the London 2012 Olympic Games July 28, 2012. (Photo : REUTERS/Bazuki Muhammad)
Taking it one match at a time is an old sporting cliché, but when 16-year-old table tennis prodigy Ariel Hsing walked off court after winning her Olympic second round match on Sunday, she had no idea she had to jump back into action in just a few hours.
The young American, who counts tycoons Warren Buffett and Bill Gates among her friends, upset former world champion Xia Lian Ni of Luxembourg, only to find out that her day's work was not done.
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"Do I? I thought I was coming back tomorrow," she said when a Games official pointed out that she must return in the evening to face one of the gold medal favorites, China's Xiaoxia Li.
As one of the top seeds, Li was given a bye through the first two rounds.
"It is a little bit daunting but she is probably more nervous than I am," Hsing told Reuters.
"She has to play against a 16-year-old girl in her first round. That must be a little bit strange for her.
"I won't be destroyed if I lose to the world number two. I think this has been a huge part of my table tennis career and a wonderful experience. I don't think I will ever be nervous for another tournament again."
Hsing, who has to juggle her sport with her school work, defeated an opponent more than three times her age in 49-year-old Lian Ni.
After shedding the nerves of playing in her first Olympics, each opponent she faces from now on is part of the learning experience.
"I try to learn what experienced players do differently when they are losing," she said. "Do they change? Do they play more aggressively or more conservatively? It is really important to understand their train of thought."