SINGAPORE - There was good news for the paddlers nominated by the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) for this year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games, and national thrower James Wong on Friday.
Both were given the nod by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) to do battle in Naypyidaw, Myanmar, from Dec 11 to 22.
While the STTA targets at least three of the four gold medals on offer, Wong isn't entirely confident of adding to his haul of 10 SEA Games gold medals.
While Wong has yet to meet the qualifying mark of 50.28m for the discus - he threw 50.06m at the Taiwan Open Athletics Championships in May - and the STTA left out the Republic's biggest names like world No. 4 Feng Tianwei from their line-up, the SNOC felt they were good enough to fly the country's flag in Myanmar.
Speaking on Friday evening at the Singapore Sports Council (SSC), where he named the initial list of Team Singapore athletes for the Games, SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan said: "This time round, there's a team event and when STTA put up the five names, the five in the team are still good enough to be No. 1.
"There's no dispute in the selection or discussion because, by their rankings, the five will beat everybody."
For the women's team event, two from Lin Ye, Zhou Yi Han and Yee Hearng Hwee will be selected to play alongside singles players Isabelle Li and Yu Mengyu.
Li Hu, Chen Feng and Pang Xuejie will vie for two spots to make up the men's quartet, alongside Clarence Chew and Zhan Jian, who have been chosen for the men's singles.
The news comes as a relief for the STTA, after its much-publicised clash with the SNOC in the build-up to the 2011 Games, which saw its initial nomination rejected.
Many of Singapore's top table tennis players are world class and the country has dominated the event at the SEA Games.
Said STTA president Lee Bee Wah: "There must be a mix of experience and youth for the SEA Games as it gives us an opportunity to give our most talented youngsters a chance to shine, and the more experienced ones an opportunity to turn into future flag-bearers.
"We would like thank the SNOC for agreeing with our position and development strategy."
While Wong is thankful for the opportunity to defend the gold medal he won in 2011, the veteran thrower knows he has much to do in the lead-up to the competition.
The 44-year-old will be coming up against younger opponents in their prime and believes it will be a very close fight in Myanmar.
He said: "I feel very honoured once again to be selected and be able to represent Singapore for the 2013 SEA games. I will be training extremely hard now to be in peak form, as my age is catching up very fast.
"I will be close to 45 come December and it's not getting easier, as I will be fighting with opponents who are much younger then me and they are at their peak age. Come December, I think it will be a centimetre game between all the medallists and it will be down to the wire and last throw.
"Once again, I hope to be victorious once again and secure another gold medal for Singapore."
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