On September 12th, 2022, NYU Shanghai sophomore Elisabeth Cabanas represented the Pudong District Table Tennis team in a decisive victory over a delegation from the South Korean National Team. This is not the first time Elisabeth has found glory in the sport of table tennis. 

Elisabeth Cabanas is a nineteen year old Barcelonian. She started playing table tennis at twelve years old. Her journey started when a soccer injury forced her to pursue a different extracurricular activity. She recalls spending her summers playing with her grandfather on a daily basis. Quickly, she found herself involved in the world of intercollegiate competitions.

I found myself improving fast. I’m very competitive, that’s what motivated me.”

Not long after that, she was signed to a competitive team in the Spain National League, with which she won the Spain National Table Tennis Championship in 2019, at sixteen years old. 

Also during that year, Elisabeth made a journey that would change the rest of her professional trajectory. On a trip to Shanghai with her trainer Yi Long, Elisabeth caught the eye of Chen Bin, a professional table tennis coach. Impressed by her talent, Mr. Chen granted Elisabeth a six year scholarship to train with the best players in China, allowing her to pursue the rest of her high school career in Shanghai.

“I freaked out. I told my parents that this is what I wanted, and that I wasn’t going to return to Spain next year. For the next couple months I found myself training six hours a day, seven days a week.”

Commendably, Elisabeth set out to learn Chinese with the sole intention of using it to better understand her teammates, and to absorb all the knowledge they could give to her. 

“I was the only non-chinese player at that center, no one else spoke english”

Like all of us, Elisabeth found her life disrupted in 2020 by the Covid pandemic. She had to put her table tennis career on hold, and return to Spain. However, this setback did not stop her or her ambitions. Now as an NYU Shanghai student, Elisabeth has returned to excelling in the sport.

“I ultimately chose NYU Shanghai as a school, because it was the one place which allowed me to combine my two passions. Table tennis gave me discipline and character, but most importantly, it opened my eyes to China.”

Elisabeth will continue to involve herself in the professional scene present in Shanghai. She hopes to learn as much as she can in her time here. When asked about the table tennis scene within the university, Elisabeth had the following to say:

“I find it shocking that the school doesn’t have a table tennis team. It is the country’s [China’s] national sport. I aspire to form it and lead it.”

Elisabeth Cabanas is a perfect example of the kind of student our university aims to attract. She is a kind, driven and ambitious individual and all of us at OMS are excited to see where her career takes her.