Table tennis: Ex-paddler Isabelle Li receives $55k boost

Zhou Jingyi from Nanyang Primary won the Primary 5-6 girls' singles title and aims to make it to the national team one day. May has been a good month for her, as she won two events in Bangkok earlier.
Zhou Jingyi from Nanyang Primary won the Primary 5-6 girls' singles title and aims to make it to the national team one day. May has been a good month for her, as she won two events in Bangkok earlier.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

It was an event to promote and give opportunities to the faces of the future, but the spotlight at the Crocodile Challenge Cup yesterday fell on an old hand.

Former national paddler Isabelle Li, 23, was honoured by the Singapore Table Tennis Association, which made her a recipient of its Youth Endowment Fund. She received a $55,000 cheque from the guest of honour, Senior Minister of State (Culture, Community and Youth, and Trade and Industry) Sim Ann at Velocity @ Novena Square.

Among the fund's key objectives are to support top youth players financially during their time with the national team and to finance their tertiary education during or after their stint with the national team or any post-career opportunities.

Li's achievements include team gold medals at the 2013 Commonwealth Championships, 2013 SEA Games, 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2015 SEA Games. She also has three singles silvers from the 2010 Youth Olympics and 2011 and 2013 SEA Games.

The liberal arts student at Yale-NUS College told The Straits Times that while she is no longer a member of the national team, she is still keen to promote the sport.

Asked about her recent table tennis activities since her last competitive outing in Singapore colours at the 2016 World Team Championships, she said: "I'm not competing at the elite level any more, but I'm helping my friends with the game and introducing them to it."

Asked why she stepped away from the national team, the Public Service Commission scholarship holder said: "After the World Championships in 2016, I realised that there were other things to pursue - the many things in life and my other dreams. I wanted to move on to the next chapter (of my life)."

Some are already looking to emulate Li and follow in her footsteps.

Zhou Jingyi defeated schoolmate Ser Lin Qian 11-3, 11-7, 11-5 to win the Primary 5 -6 girls' singles final.

The Primary 6 pupil from Nanyang Primary School, who claimed two ITTF titles in Thailand earlier this month, told ST she aims to represent Singapore. "I want to get into the national team, play at the Olympics and win (a) gold medal like Joseph Schooling."

In the boys' final, Izaac Quek, 11, of Ai Tong School beat Nanyang's Xu Bing Xian 11-2, 11-4, 11-5.

The Crocodile Cup aims to identify talents and groom champions. The sixth edition of the competition received more than 230 entries from 48 primary schools.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2017, with the headline 'Ex-paddler Li receives $55k boost'. Print Edition | Subscribe