SEA Games: Positive paddlers

SEA Games: Positive paddlers

Top female paddlers Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu will lead the charge for Singapore's first gold medal at the SEA Games come June.

The seven table tennis events will be played from June 1 to 8 and The New Paper understands the women's doubles final will be on June 2.

With 2012 World Tour Grand Finals women's doubles champions Feng and Yu ranked fourth and 16th respectively in the world's singles standings, the highest in South-east Asia, the duo are hot favourites to deliver the first cheers for Team Singapore.

Their closest rivals should be compatriots Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan, who will attempt to upset their more illustrious teammates.

On the sidelines of the Singapore Table Tennis Association's visit to Woodlands Gardens School (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled) yesterday, Feng said that she is up for the challenge.

The 28-year-old, who is slated to play in the women's singles, doubles and team events, said: "We are playing at home, so definitely we want to put on a good show for our countrymen.

"Of course, the pressure is there, but our big-tournament experience will help and we will do our best to win."

To prepare for the SEA Games and the upcoming World Table Tennis Championships in Suzhou, China, from Sunday to May 3, the paddlers had gone to Taiwan for a month-long centralised training stint.

Women's head coach Jing Junhong added: "We sparred with top players from the Taiwanese national team and worked on both technique and fitness.


"Our standard may be higher than the other countries at the SEA Games, but that doesn't mean it will be a walk in the park.

"If we want all the gold medals, we will have to work for it."

While the women's team, featuring Feng, Yu, Lin, Zhou and Isabelle Li are expected to stamp their authority in South-east Asia again, the men's team will have to overcome internal and external hurdles.

Defending men's singles champion Zhan Jian has been ruled out with a serious tennis elbow injury, although they will be able to call on world No. 15 Gao Ning and 2013 SEA Games bronze medallist Clarence Chew.

Men's head coach Yang Chuanning also singled out Cambodia, who are likely to feature naturalised paddlers from South Korea, as the main threat.

He said: "We will be going for all the gold medals on offer. But our men's team are older compared to our women's team, so we have to be practical about training load and the number of events they play in.

"We will prepare the team for every possible scenario in the hope of cutting mistakes to a minimum."

Singapore swept all seven gold medals for the first and only time at the 2007 SEA Games in Thailand and came close to repeating the feat two years later in Laos, but lost the men's doubles title to Vietnam.

However, their odds will improve this year as they will feature 2012 and 2013 World Tour Grand Finals men's doubles champions Gao and Li Hu.

Gao, who will also take part in the men's singles and team events, said: "We cannot underestimate any opponent. We are experienced enough to manage our time and training load.

"I've played in all four events in 2007 and 2009, so three should be okay.

"This is the year of Singapore's golden jubilee. It's a big occasion for me and every Singaporean, so we hope to give the nation more cause to celebrate at the SEA Games."

This article was first published on April 24, 2015.
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