Table tennis: Feng Tianwei free to play in World Tours

Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei in action against Miu Hirano of Japan in the semi-finals of the ITTF Women's World Cup in Philadelphia.
Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei in action against Miu Hirano of Japan in the semi-finals of the ITTF Women's World Cup in Philadelphia.PHOTO: INTERNATIONAL TABLE TENNIS FEDERATION

Feng Tianwei's playing days are far from over, even though she has been dropped from the national team by the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA).

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, an STTA spokesman said that while Feng does not fit into its plans, "STTA will not stop her from representing Singapore at the ITTF (International Table Tennis Federation) World Tours and events if she indeed can qualify".

"For the major Games, we will leave it to STTA's high performance and technical teams to decide," the association said.

In a Facebook post on her official page, Feng confirmed she will continue to take part in international competitions, but "it's just that the method of doing so will change a little".

She said she will hold a press conference in a few days' time to shed more light on her future.

 
 
 
 

To represent Singapore at major Games, an athlete typically has to first be nominated by the National Sports Association, before being endorsed by the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC). SNOC secretary-general Chris Chan said: "We regret to learn the Singapore Table Tennis Association has parted ways with Feng Tianwei.

"With the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in mind, moving forward, we will work closely with the STTA and Sport Singapore to select the best athletes to represent Team Singapore for the upcoming major Games."

The situation is slightly different for events on the ITTF circuit, where no approval from SNOC is required. The ITTF said only that each association can field up to six players per category.

With Feng, the world No. 6, gone, the next highest-ranked women's player is world No. 13 Yu Mengyu, who, according to the STTA, is injured. The association added that Zeng Jian, Zhou Yihan and Lin Ye, ranked 18th, 31st and 71st respectively, will be the nucleus of the women's team until the 2024 Olympics.

But former national men's head coach Yang Chuanning said: "Tianwei is far superior in technique and it's going to be very hard for the younger ones to surpass her, even in four years' time."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 26, 2016, with the headline 'Feng free to play in World Tours'. Print Edition | Subscribe