Ariel Hsing was eight when she wrote down her Olympic dream on a piece of paper. She rolled it up, wrapped it with a string and tucked it into a small box.
“I said something along the lines of I wish to become an Olympian one day,” the 16-year-old Californian recalled. “Then for eight years, I persuaded myself that if I opened the piece of paper and read it, my wish could not come true.”
Well now Hsing will stand for the US in table tennis at the London Olympics and she’ll be leaving with two other Californians who are even younger — 16-year old Lily Zhang and 15-year-old Erica Wu. The lone men’s representative will be Tim Wang of Houston, Texas.
Hsing has abruptly become a celebrity in a sport that gets scant notice in the US.
For starters, she is buddies with billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, close enough to call them “Uncle Warren” and “Uncle Bill.”
A table tennis buff, Buffett met Hsing when she was only nine and already a top youth player. Two years later, he invited her to play against shareholders at Berkshire Hathaway’s annual gathering. She has returned several times, including last month after winning a spot on the US team.