Jasna Reed is one of the top female table tennis players in North America. In 1988 and 1992 she played for the Yugoslavian Olympic team, in 1988 winning a bronze medal in women’s doubles. In 2000 and 2004 she played for the U.S. Olympic Team, and she hopes to compete in Beijing in 2008. She’s a citizen of both the United States and Croatia. She earned a bachelor’s degree in political Science from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in education while acting as one of the head coaches of the Texas Wesleyan Table Tennis team.
BPG: What has it been like to represent different countries at different Olympics? Do you feel you are representing yourself or your country?
Reed: I always represent the country, not myself. It is the same for me now representing the United States as it was once representing Yugoslavia. However, no experience will probably equal that first one when I won a medal at age 17. My doubles partner and I are still the only two European women to ever win a medal in table tennis in the Olympics.
BPG: What are your expectations for Beijing 2008? Are other top-ranked table tennis players in the world expecting the Chinese to dominate in the 2008 Olympics?
Reed: I hope to do my best, of course, but my time now is somewhat divided between many things, so realistically I know my strengths. Other top players know that China is always a favorite in any tournament. However, there are some European and Asian players who always have a chance, particularly in the men’s events.
BPG: Why do you think the Chinese are so good at table tennis?
Reed: Let’s face reality here: the Chinese have millions of serious players, and every other country has many less. In the United States, for example, we have only a few thousand players, and only about 30 are serious. The average age is about 50.
BPG: After contending in many Olympics, what do you think the 2008 Olympics are going to be like? Are you excited, nervous, or neither about the fact that table tennis is one of the events being showcased in Beijing?
Reed: I grew up in Tito’s Yugoslavia, which was also [under] a Communist system. I know that when [such a] country wants to make a great tournament, like China does, it will be great. I expect this to be one of the best Olympics ever.
BPG: Does the Chinese style of table tennis (holding the paddle upside down) make a difference?
Reed: The Chinese have champions with all styles. Even on the Chinese team, the penhold grip is not as common as it once was.
BPG: What is being most talked about among athletes who are participating in Beijing 2008 Games?
Reed: The athletes, most of them anyway, are only concerned at this point with making the team. Most of the public doesn’t know it, but making the team can be very hard, sometimes even harder than playing in the Olympics itself.
Source: An Interview with Jasna Reed. (2006). Guanxi: The China Letter, 3.