Mixed doubles king Yang Zi partners Yu to another gold

Mixed doubles king Yang Zi partners Yu to another gold
JUBILANT: Singapore’s Yang Zi (left) celebrating with his partner Yu Mengyu on his way to a fifth SEA Games mixed doubles gold yesterday.

From 2005 to 2011, he was unbeaten in the South-east Asia (SEA) Games table tennis mixed doubles event, claiming four golds with four different partners - Zhang Xueling, Li Jiawei, Wang Yuegu and Sun Beibei.

Last night, Singapore paddler Yang Zi made it five in a row when he teamed up with Yu Mengyu to beat Thailand's Padasak Tanviriyachakul and Suthasini Sawettabut 4-0 (11-7, 11-5, 11-9, 11-6) in 31 minutes to become the undisputed South-east Asian king of mixed doubles.

It could have been six, but the event was dropped from the 2013 programme.

The 30-year-old was filled with emotion as he looked back at the decade that has passed since his first mixed doubles gold at Manila 2005.

As recently as a year ago, Yang was contemplating hanging up his bat after a debilitating back injury that threatened to end his playing career.

He told The New Paper: "It definitely feels special for me to be able to keep the unbeaten streak going and win my fifth consecutive SEA Games mixed doubles title on home soil.

"You can't imagine the stress of having to deliver on home ground.

"I think about it day and night, and I haven't been able to sleep well over the past few nights because of the anticipation.

"We prepared well for this tournament, and you can't say it's all down to me.

"I have been lucky to have good partners for each SEA Games, and I think I can still contribute in the editions to come.

"Now that I have recovered from my back injury, I intend to continue playing as long as possible."

PARTY POOPER

Team Singapore did not have it all their way, however, as Padasak Tanviriyachakul once again proved to be the party pooper.

A day after he partnered Chanakarn Udomsilp to deny an all-Singaporean men's doubles final, the 19-year-old teamed up with Suthasini to repeat the feat in the mixed doubles.

Earlier in the evening, they came from two sets down to beat Singapore's Li Hu and Zhou Yihan 4-3 (1-11, 5-11, 11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8) in the mixed doubles semi-finals.

Furthermore, the same Thai pair also stretched Yang and Yu to seven games at the World Championships in April, before losing 4-3.

As Yu said: "After our teammates lost in the semi-finals, there was more pressure on us to deliver.

"I had also lost in the women's doubles final the day before and I told myself not to carry the negativity over to today.

"We didn't think it would be easy. But we prepared well before the match and perfomed well during the match to win convincingly."

If the Republic can emerge victorious again in the men's and women's singles finals today, they will all but complete the clean sweep, with just the men's and women's team events - which Singapore are overwhelming favourites to win - to come.

Singapore are the only team in SEA Games history to achieve the clean sweep of all seven table tennis gold when they swatted aside all opposition at the 2007 SEA Games in Korat, Thailand.

 


This article was first published on June 04, 2015.
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