Feng Tianwei, Singapore's most bemedalled Olympian, has been dropped from the national table tennis team in a move that has stunned the local sports fraternity.
The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) said in a statement last night that Feng "does not fit into the STTA's current plans for rejuvenation".
In the same statement, STTA president Ellen Lee said that Feng has been "a cornerstone of the national team" since 2007 and "has brought many golden moments to the sport". "We would like to thank her for all that she has done for Singapore table tennis, and we would like to take this opportunity to wish Tianwei all the best in her future endeavours."
Feng, 30, said on her official Facebook page that she will continue to compete in international competitions but "it's just that the method of doing so will change a little". She said she would meet the media in a few days' time to announce her plans and thanked her fans for their concern.
She is currently ranked world No. 6 and is Singapore's top female player. The Straits Times understands that her shock exclusion was partly a result of clashes with the STTA's management, including her attitude towards coaches.
Yesterday's news followed STTA's sacking on Monday of world No. 58 Li Hu, Singapore's second-highest ranked male player, for breaking house rules.
China-born Feng won one silver and two bronze medals in three Olympic appearances. She also anchored the Singapore team to a stunning win over China in the final of the 2010 World Team Table Tennis Championships.
But she and the team fared poorly at the Rio Olympics. Feng was eliminated in the quarter-finals of the singles event, and the women's team lost in the bronze-medal match. She has also been plagued by a chronic knee injury.
The bulk of STTA's statement outlined its new "high performance strategic plan" for the 2020 Games. Ms Lee said "bold moves are needed" to challenge the top table tennis nations for honours.