Olympic table tennis star Minnie Soo is now a Science undergraduate at HKUST, and she never fails to surprise, excel, and do her very best.

Minnie Soo is a woman who excels and never fails to push herself to the limit. The Hong Kong table tennis star, now 24, has won medals at the World Championship, Asian Games and the 2020 Summer Olympics. Now her next challenge is straight ahead, studying Physics as an undergraduate at HKUST.

Minnie's schedule is one that would wear out even the most energetic of people. When we talked with her, Minnie had just flown back from Germany, where she took part in two tournaments during a mid-term break. It makes us wonder, how is she able to accomplish it all? “It takes planning and a tight study schedule, but somehow I get by,” she says.

Paddle power

From day one, Minnie's life was intertwined with table tennis. Her dad was a table tennis coach and as a result, she was playing from the age of 3 and training with her father from Primary One. “When we were young every event revolved around table tennis, and I already told my father I wanted to be world champion from the age of 4,” she says with a laugh. It is also incidentally, why she developed a love for Physics at the same time, describing the "rhythm, speed, spin, flow and variations" of table tennis as something that fascinated her from day one.

One may think that playing table tennis would be pure joy for Minnie, but it can also prove to be difficult. The Olympics, an unparalleled success for her with a bronze medal standing, was also very full-on. “When I got there I was excited but I also felt so much stress.



Luckily, there were people helping me with the burden like physios, coaches and teammates. We went through joy and tears — I lost in the singles but in the end, we fought hard in the teams and secured the bronze medal,” Minnie says. It is little wonder she has been awarded “Ten Outstanding Yong Persons (TOYP)” by the Junior Chamber International Hong Kong in 2022.

But as with many sportspeople, Minnie has experienced setbacks. Minnie’s neurological injury has posed a huge challenge for her to keep competing at the highest level, as it has impacted her arm movement. “Table tennis is a very important part of my life, and having played full-time since the age of 15, I want to put effort and time into my studies, as I have much to catch-up on. It’s exciting for me!” says Minnie.

Focused on campus life

Luckily, Minnie has discovered the joys of Physics at HKUST, following her admission under the Student-Athlete Learning Support and Admission Scheme (SALSA). The program offers student athletes special admission arrangements, flexible and personalized support, scholarship and a living allowance. She describes as having wonderful professors, classmates, with the opportunity to learn, expand her mind, and cultivate new passions. While HKUST is an academically rigorous university, Minnie takes it all in her stride, or indeed, her swing. “People here love science and work hard for it, and this is the best atmosphere for studying, I absolutely love it. If I want to pursue further studies I need a firm foundation and do my best,” she says.

We can easily burn out by running around and trying to get everything done. We might be disappointed with results at times. But life is long, what happens now doesn’t change the future.


Whatever happens, Minnie still makes time for her hobbies, reading pop science or science-fiction, enjoying a coffee at a cafe, and keeping her heels firmly on the ground. So being a former Olympian, and having beaten some of the best in the world, what advice would she give to her fellow classmates? "We can easily burn out by running around and trying to get everything done. We might be disappointed with results at times. But life is long, what happens now doesn’t change the future. If you do too much, you might end up asking ourselves ‘why do we do all this?’ So slow down a bit, be satisfied, focus on your goals, and don't burn out. You will be happier and more successful in the long run."