Apart from the shock move to axe key player Feng Tianwei, the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) announced yesterday other strategies to propel the revamp and rejuvenation of its teams.
It said Zhou Yihan, 22; Lin Ye, 20; and Zeng Jian, 19, will anchor the women's team for the next two Olympic cycles (2020 and 2024) while the association brings through a new generation of Singapore-born players.
The STTA added that it will continue to monitor 27-year-old Yu Mengyu's injury situation.
Changes are also afoot in the men's team, with world No. 41 Gao Ning, the country's top-ranked male player, taking on an assistant coach/player role. Gao, 34, is expected to retire after the 2018 Asian Games. The STTA added that it will focus on grooming Clarence Chew, 20, and Chen Feng, 22, for the 2020 Olympics.
The STTA will promote more local talent to the intermediate squad, which was formed last year, with the intention of grooming them for the national team. It will also continue to work closely with partners, including the Singapore Sports School (SSP) and Sport Singapore, to "nurture a new generation of accomplished athletes" for the national team.
SSP principal Tan Teck Hock said: "Together with STTA, we will do everything possible to nurture our high-potential athletes." Mr Tan added that he hopes the changes will eventually see more Singaporean paddlers competing at a high level.
The association added that it will explore more academic pathways for players with high potential in the national team.
The STTA currently has a network of educational partners - Nanyang Technological University, Beijing Sport University, UniSIM and University of Liverpool - that provides special admission or scholarships to players.
An STTA spokesman said: "We must be bold as there is too much to lose. We all need to play our part in ensuring our sport continues to prosper, so we are inviting all those who support this vision to join us."