CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Table tennis is a sport many have played in their lifetime as a fun pastime, however, for our Canada Games team it is so much more.
The young squad, comprised of 12-year-old Mike Li, 13-year-old Daniel Zhao and 17-year-old Steven Liu, is eager to represent Canada’s smallest province in Red Deer, Alta., in February.
Li, despite being the youngest member on the team, has had great success thus far in his young career. He is the under-15 Atlantic Canadian, and P.E.I. junior, reigning champion. Li will be competing against athletes that are 18-years-old in Red Deer, however, this is nothing new for one of the Island’s best. He is looking forward to gaining some valuable experience at a Canada Games as he will still be eligible for the next Winter Games hosted on P.E.I. in 2023.
Zhao, similar to Li, will be facing some older competition but is excited for the opportunity. He will compete in both singles and doubles, with Li as his doubles partner. They will be one of the youngest, if not the youngest, team at the Canada Games. In singles, Zhao finished second in the P.E.I. junior championship and picked up a silver medal at the under-15 Atlantics. Zhao also won the under-15 division at the Musquodoboit tournament in Nova Scotia.
Liu rounds out the three-man roster for Team P.E.I. He is a Grade 11 student at Colonel Gray who most recently finished third at the P.E.I. junior championships.
The team is led by head coach Najam Chishti and manager Farida Chishti. This will be Najam’s seventh time coaching at the Canada Games. Other Games experience on his resume includes being part of Team P.E.I.’s mission staff in 2007 and an official in 2011.
“Our team is working hard. We are a young group but a dedicated group,” Najam said when asked about the upcoming Games. “(We’re) excited to get to Red Deer with the guys and watch them take on some good competition.”
Volunteers like Najam and Farida, who continue to give back to the game they love, allow our province to participate competitively at each Canada Games.
Table tennis is a true passion for the Chishti family.
In 1987, Shehla Chishti won the silver medal in table tennis in Sydney, N.S. This is the only medal in the sport for Team P.E.I. in the province’s history. To honour her achievement, Shehla was named the torchbearer for the 1991 Canada Games held in Charlottetown.
For more information on Team P.E.I. and the 2019 Canada Winter Games, stay tuned for our Countdown to the Games articles and be sure to follow Team P.E.I. on Facebook and Twitter.
Jordan Ellis is an account manager with MBS Radio and communications for Team P.E.I. at the 2019 Canada Games.
A look at the roster for Team P.E.I.’s table tennis squad at the Canada Games in Red Deer, Alta.
Name Age School
Mike Li 12 Grade 7 at Grace Baptist School.
Daniel Zhao 13 Grade 8 at Grace Baptist School.
Steven Liu 17 Grade 11 at Colonel Gray High School.