Youngsters upset table tennis veterans for Singapore's first gold

Youngsters upset table tennis veterans for Singapore's first gold
Lin Ye (right) and Zhou Yihan battled against Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu and came out top during the 28th SEA Games table tennis match, Women's double at Singapore Indoor Stadium on 2 June 2015.

She had visualised herself winning Singapore's first gold medal at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games, even though at that time it seemed somewhat improbable.

But, at 7.54pm last night at the Singapore Indoor Stadium, paddler Lin Ye's dream came true when the 19-year-old partnered Zhou Yihan to upset teammates and raging favourites Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu in the women's doubles final.

Lin Ye and Zhou, 21, battled against their more illustrious teammates for the full seven games, and came out 7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10, 3-11, 10-12, 11-7 winners in 54 minutes.

The pair will go down in history as Singapore's first gold medallists at the Jubilee Games. In addition, it is likely to be the first title among the seven the Singapore Table Tennis Association is targeting to win at this Games.

Lin Ye said: "Of course I have thought about winning Singapore's first gold medal... but I never spent too much thinking about that. "This is the first time Zhou Yihan and I are taking part in an individual event at the SEA Games, and winning this gold medal is a great affirmation of us as a pair."

Zhou added: "We thought of beating them before, but weren't totally confident that we would be able to do so.

"So we thought - we are young and have nothing to lose, so we just go all out and fight for every point in the final."

Victory for the younger Singaporeans was especially sweet, given their hard-fought 7-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-5, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8 victory over Thailand's Nanthana Komwong and Suthasini Sawettabut in the semi-finals earlier.

Thailand coach Anisara Muangsuk said: "We were rather relaxed at the beginning and led 2-0, but became nervous when the Singaporeans came back to draw 2-2. In the deciding game, our players did not dare to play their shots, while Singapore were more courageous in their play. It was such a pity."

By contrast, Feng and Yu, ranked fourth and 13th in the world in women's singles respectively, easily dispatched Malaysians Ho Ying and Lee Rou You 11-9, 11-7, 11-8 and 11-4 in 28 minutes in the last four yesterday.

In the final, the more experienced pair started off well but they soon found the tables turned on them.

Said Feng, 28: "They played better than us today; we felt the pressure of the occasion and were slow to react to changes on court." Asked if losing the gold, as the odds-on favourites, was disappointing, Yu, 25, said: "It is okay, they are our teammates after all, so Singapore have won the gold. Congratulations to them, I am so happy for them."

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said: "Congratulations to our paddlers on winning our first SEA Games gold.

"I'm very proud of the fighting spirit and tenacity shown by our athletes so far, and also the tremendous support from Singaporeans at all the competition venues.

"Our campaign has just started and there are more exciting days ahead for us. Let's keep pushing on as One Team Singapore!"


This article was first published on June 3, 2015.
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