Burnaby table tennis champion Shirley Fu is up against the heavy hitters at the Sport B.C. athlete of the year awards.
The 16-year-old Canadian women's singles champion is shortlisted alongside Victoria diver Emily Schmidt and Coquitlam golfer Jisoo Keel in the junior girls' athlete category at the Sport B.C. awards to be held at the River Rock Show Theatre on March 8.
Last year, Fu won the Canadian under-21 youth singles title, while also winning the national women's singles crown.
Fu knocked off Ioullia Degtiar, the highest ranked player in the country and 12 years her senior, by two points in the tiebreaker in the women's final.
She also took gold in singles and doubles at the Canada Winter Games.
Fu is not just up against worthy opponents, the Burnaby North honours student is also fighting history.
Golfers have won the junior girls' award for the past two years, while divers Olympic medallist Blythe Hartley and Pan Am Games silver medal winner, Paige Gordon, were junior athlete of the year winners in 2000 and 1989, respectively.
Other junior award winners through the years include former Toronto Blue Jays baseball player Adam Loewen, NHL hockey players Scott Neidermayer, Paul Kariya and Joe Murphy, tennis star Helen Kelesi, Burnaby high jumper Debbie Brill and figure skating legend Karen Magnussen.
"It's giving me more confidence and the desire to put more time into it," said the Grade 11 Burnaby North student. "In Canada, table tennis is not the most popular sport. So for me, if I could win this award, it would lift the importance of table tennis."
Schmidt, just 13, won all three titles at the junior nationals last year, sweeping the one-and threemetre and tower in the girls' C finals in Montreal. She later represented Canada at the Pan Am junior championships.
The 16year-old Keel was equally brilliant, winning the juvenile division at the Canadian girls' championships, as well as a Western Canada Summer Games team gold medal.
Keel was the top amateur on the CN Canadian women's tour, with a season-best top-three finish at the B.C. stop back in May. She also won the Future Links Pacific championships.
Fu is working towards earning a spot on the Canadian national team at the upcoming Olympic trials later this month.
If successful, she would go head-to-head with Team U.S.A. prior to the Summer Olympic Games in London, England.
It is exciting times for Fu, who up until last week had never even heard of the Sport B.C. award.
"I was really excited. I was jumping on my bed," said Fu after she read the email stating she was nominated for the annual award. "I'm really proud."
In the past, Fu has been a recipient of a B.C. premier's award, "but I think this is bigger," she said. "I think it would be a step up for me and push me harder."
Tickets are available at http: //sportbc.com.
© Copyright 2013