SEA Games: Isabelle ready to cross divide

SEA Games: Isabelle ready to cross divide
Table tennis player Isabelle Li

SINGAPORE- She became the youngest paddler to don Singapore colours at age 11, prompting many to dub her a future champion.

But Isabelle Li, now 19 and a Youth Olympic and SEA Games silver medallist, never felt more than just a kid playing a sport she loved.

As much as she enjoyed and excelled at the game, table tennis as a full-time endeavour was not something she was sure of - until 2010 when she temporarily put studies aside to focus on the YOG.

"None of this was planned," she said, pointing to her role as a national paddler, competing against the world's best at some of the sport's biggest events.

"When I was younger, I played out of passion for the sport. I didn't know this was what I wanted to do. I just took everything one step at a time, and I eventually ended up here."

As a local born-and-bred talent, she remains the minority among Singapore's stellar cast of players. But while others might have been intimidated, Isabelle did not cower from the challenge.

She said: "Sometimes, it's really about callings in life, and table tennis feels like something that is in season in my life right now."

Ranked 226th in the world, the final-year student at Republic Polytechnic has grown to be the local face of Singapore table tennis.

The nation rallied behind her in the YOG where she won a silver in the singles on home soil.

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