Singapore's top-ranked female paddler Feng Tianwei is on course to represent the Republic at the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Malaysia, which will be held from Aug 19 to 31.
Despite being ranked fifth in the world, there had been doubts over the 30-year-old's (right)international career after the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) announced last October that Feng was no longer part of the national team, which was set for a rejuvenation.
In the fallout, Feng had indicated she would build her own support team in terms of coaching, sparring and fitness, and train apart from the STTA.
Responding to The New Paper's queries yesterday, STTA technical director Loy Soo Han said that three local players with the highest International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) world rankings will be nominated for the SEA Games team events.
The STTA will continue its rejuvenation plans and blood young paddlers in the team event.
Loy said the selection committee will nominate a player ranked at least third in South-east Asia, based on the world rankings and/or past results in World Tours and any other major championships within a 12-month period before the Games.
He added: "In the event that there is no player who meets the criteria, the selection committee will nominate the next highest-ranked player.
"For the fifth player for the team event, the intermediate squad will go through a selection trial to determine the nominee. Details and format of the selection trials will be determined by the selection committee."
Loy said younger players will be sent to ITTF competitions and centralised training camps before the biennial Games.
He added that the highest-ranked player in the team will be nominated for the singles event.
The second singles player must be ranked at least third in South-east Asia, based on the latest world rankings and/or past results in World Tours and any other major championships within a 12-month period before the SEA Games.
If Feng gets into the team, she will get the chance to avenge her shock group-stage elimination by eventual winner, Thailand's Suthasini Sawettabut, in the singles event in 2015 on home soil.
The doubles pairings will be up to the selection committee, who will consider compatibility of playing styles.
In the past, the STTA had clashed with the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC), the selection body for major Games, over its SEA Games nominations.
In 2011, table tennis was not on the initial list of sports approved by SNOC for the SEA Games in Indonesia, after the STTA decided to drop world-beaters Wang Yuegu, Li Jiawei and Feng for younger paddlers Isabelle Li, Zena Sim, Yu Mengyu and Sun Beibei.
The SNOC relented only after the STTA replaced Yu with then-world No. 2 Feng.
For Naypyidaw 2013, the SNOC okayed Feng's absence as they deemed that the team of Lin Ye, Zhou Yihan, Yee Herng Hwee, Isabelle Li and Yu were good enough, based on their world rankings.
The STTA and the SNOC seem to be on the same page this year.
Said SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan: "The best players should go. Feng Tianwei may not be in the national squad but she is still training and competing.
"When we get closer to the SEA Games and if she is still our best paddler, then she should go."
This article was first published on Jan 25, 2017.
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