Table tennis: Just what the doctor ordered

Table tennis: Just what the doctor ordered
READY TO ROLL: Feng Tianwei (in purple) greeting enthusiastic pupils of Chongfu School yesterday. She and the rest of the SEA Games team also visited Qi Hua Primary School.
PHOTO: Table Tennis Association

She looked tired and even sullen during the South-east Asia (SEA) Games here last month, and suffered a shock exit in the group stages of the women's singles event.

What a difference a 10-day break can make.

Yesterday, Singapore table tennis star Feng Tianwei looked refreshed and was all smiles as the SEA Games men's and women's teams visited Chongfu School and Qihua Primary School.

Speaking to The New Paper, the 28-year-old world No. 6 said: "I had a break of about 10 days after the Japan Open, which I spent in Japan.

"It was the longest break I've had since I came to Singapore (in 2007), and mentally I feel refreshed."

The break has given the three-time Olympic medallist an opportunity to rest her injured knees, which prevented her from doing her best at the SEA Games and the Japan Open, where she lost to the host's world No. 43 Misako Wakamiya in the first round.

Said Feng: "Physically, it was a good break, and now a good place for me to make a fresh start."

She has a gruelling nine months ahead, starting with the China Open from Aug 5 to 9, as the race to accumulate ranking points for Olympic qualification intensifies.

While the world rankings were enough for singles qualification for the 2012 London Games, paddlers will have to compete in the respective continental qualification competitions from now till late April next year, in a bid to compete in the event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Forty paddlers - including 11 from Asia - will make the cut from these qualifiers, with each country having a maximum of two in each singles event.

Thereafter, the top 22 players in the world rankings, subject to the two-per-country quota, will go to Rio.

"There is definitely pressure to do well - even though there's still a year to go to the Olympics, everyone is gunning for ranking points now.


"We have to get into the mentality soon and do our best," said Feng, who has to take injections to lubricate her knees every six months.

Women's national coach Jing Junhong said she will figure a way to manage the training and competition loads of Feng and world No. 25 Yu Mengyu, who have not had much luck with injuries in the last 12 months.

Jing said: "At the moment it's better to sacrifice a bit of ranking points and let them have a good rest.

"We won't be too affected from the loss in ranking points this month, but from next month we must have individual strategies for our players in terms of their competition loads, based on their physical condition.

"Based on their (Feng and Yu) rankings now our chances of making Olympic qualification are quite good, but everyone will be fighting for points in the coming months, and it's not just about winning those points, but also staying healthy and injury-free at the same time."

More crucial, though, will be the performance of Lin Ye, 19, and Zhou Yihan, 21, who are ranked 56th and 65th in the world, respectively.

The three highest ranked players of a country will determine its team rankings, which will be used in the seeding of the Olympic team event.

Singapore won a silver and a bronze in the women's team event at the last two Olympics, and Feng also bagged a bronze in women's singles in 2012.

The Singapore women's team are ranked sixth in the world now, and Feng said: "At the moment the ranking is not very good.

If we are out of the top four we may meet China in the quarter-finals and that would lower our chances of winning a medal. "So hopefully all of us, including the younger players, can improve our ranking."

This article was first published on July 16, 2015.
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