Raffles paddlers sweep all six titles for the first time

Raffles paddlers sweep all six titles for the first time

Two years ago, the Raffles family came close to a perfect sweep when they won five of the six division titles in table tennis.

On Tuesday, they finally took everything at stake at the Schools National Table Tennis Championships, ending up victorious in the A, B and C boys' and girls' divisions.

It is widely believed that this is a historic first in Raffles' table tennis' history, although official records obtained by The Straits Times date back only to 2010.

Their coach Li Shuhe, who oversees training across all six teams, credits the togetherness for their unprecedented success.

He said: "Our team spirit is very strong. Our principals, teachers, parents and coaches all row in the same direction with our students."

According to 18-year-old A girls paddler Ng Xue Qi, what was crucial were the closer ties forged between the Raffles Institution (RI) and Raffles Girls' School (RGS) teams.

"The teams are more bonded across all three divisions, especially with RGS (based in Anderson Road) coming over (to RI's campus in Bishan) to train once a week since the start of this year," said the Year 6 student.

Vociferous support from schoolmates has also helped.

Hordes of fans swarmed Xue Qi, who was last off the table after her singles win clinched the sixth and final gold at Pasir Ris sports centre, with RI eking past Hwa Chong Institution by a 3-2 score.

"Thinking about how the whole Raffles family and my coaches were there to support me, I just wanted to try my best," said Monica Koh, 14, who triumphed in her singles match for RGS in the B Division.

Added 12-year-old Dominic Koh, who represented RI's C boys and won his singles match: "I was really nervous but when I saw my supporters cheering me on, it was a really comforting sight.

"I just told myself to not give up no matter the circumstances and fight on with my team-mates behind me."

While victories are fine, Li believes the most important aspect for his charges to play up is character development.

Added Eng Han Seng, RI's dean of CCA and PE, who was an old boy from 1986 to 1991: "We played against strong opponents and only focused on giving our best.

"The results are a culmination of everyone's efforts."

ocharles@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on April 25, 2015.
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