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University of Missouri

Table Tennis All-Stars

Mizzou’s table tennis club blasts straight to the nationals.

Di Gao Mizzou table tennis

Di Gao of Beijing is team president and one of the best players on the Mizzou Table Tennis Club. Photo by Rob Hill.

In the U.S., clacking Ping-Pong paddles might not have the mass appeal of crunching tackles, but Mizzou is building its reputation as a “table tennis school.”

Led by ace Alan Chu, M Ed ’13, of Hong Kong and team president Di Gao of Beijing, the Mizzou Table Tennis Club crashed the U.S. College Table Tennis Championships April 12–14, 2013, in Rockford, Ill.

The Tigers, in their first year of sponsored competition, made it through regional and divisional rounds to compete in the nationals. The club placed 22nd out of 24 teams.

“Not all of the students playing in the tournament know our name,” says Gao, whose individual moment of glory came when he upset a higher-ranked player from Harvard. “Through the game, though, more and more people are starting to know about Mizzou.”

The club, which practices and competes at the Student Recreation Complex, began in 2011 with only seven members and has grown to 20.

“You don’t need the same strength as football and basketball,” Gao says. “But it works every muscle in your body.”