16-year-old ping pong phenom Ariel Hsing to star for U.S.

(CBS News) With the London Olympics at the end of July, many hopes are riding on a young American contender who just happens to have some very famous fans.

CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports that for 16-year-old Ariel Hsing, the road to London runs through a converted garage in San Jose, California.

This daughter of Chinese immigrants is hoping to do what no other American has ever done: Win a medal in table tennis.

Ariel's dad said he "still cannot believe it."

Erik Ellefsen, Ariel's school's counselor, says she has a deal with her parents.

"If she keeps A's, she can keep playing table tennis," Erik said.

"I mean I've never tried to test out this theory," Ariel said, adding that she has no plans to try.

Last week her high school celebrated Ariel's place on the Olympic team with a pep rally, where football coach Mike Machado dared to take her on. Coach Machado never had a chance.

But earlier this month, Ariel crushed a real heavy hitter: Warren Buffet, or as Ariel calls him, "Uncle Warren."

It turns out Warren Buffet, a ping pong enthusiast, has known Ariel since she was nine when, along with her coach, she received a coveted invitation to his 75th birthday party.

"There was a table set up, and I got to play against Uncle Warren and Uncle Bill, and..." Ariel said. "Yeah, Mr. Bill Gates."

In an email that praises her talents, Buffet told CBS News: "Bill Gates and I are still searching for a way to get a point off her."

Coverage of the 2012 London Olympics

But they have made one point affecting her future plans.

"Before, I wanted to be a teacher or maybe a doctor, but now, now that I've been to three Berkshire Hathaway meetings, I think business sounds really fun," Ariel said.

Someday, Ariel may handle returns on investments, but for now, these are the returns that matter most.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.

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