For Lily Zhang, it was all about breathing.
The 18-year-old needed to keep her composure Wednesday to become the first American to win a table tennis medal in Olympic competition, taking bronze at the Youth Summer Games in Nanjing, China.
“I was able to calm myself down by telling myself to not think about the points,” she said. “A lot of times I rush too much and then I keep losing more points.”
The Palo Alto teenager, who represented the U.S. at the 2012 London Olympics, defeated Miyu Kato of Japan, 4-2, in a tight match.
The score was tied at two games apiece when Zhang’s coach told her to take a deep breath and slow down. She won the next two games to secure the medal.
“Winning here in China is an amazing experience,” she said.
Brazil’s Hugo Calderano later picked up the Americas’ second table tennis medal ever by defeating Heng-Wei Yang of Chinese Taipei, 4-2, in the boys’ third-place match.