Olympics Rio 2016

Feng to the fore again

Singapore’s Yu Mengyu (left) and Zhou Yihan in action against South Korea, eventually losing their doubles tie 2-3 to the Korean duo of Jeon Ji Hee and Yang Ha Eun. The Republic notched points in the singles ties through Feng Tianwei (twice) and Zh
Singapore’s Yu Mengyu (left) and Zhou Yihan in action against South Korea, eventually losing their doubles tie 2-3 to the Korean duo of Jeon Ji Hee and Yang Ha Eun. The Republic notched points in the singles ties through Feng Tianwei (twice) and Zhou to edge the match 3-2 overall.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Team captain comes up with clutch wins to lead Singapore into semi-finals against China

Summoning their fighting spirit, the Republic's women's table tennis team claimed a dramatic 3-2 quarter-final win over South Korea yesterday in Brazil.

So often cast as the country's table tennis heroine, Feng Tianwei reprised that role with a decisive contribution in the come-from-behind victory at the Riocentro Pavilion 3.

The world No. 4 won both her singles ties, book-ending the best-of-five match that lasted almost three hours to send fourth-seeded Singapore into a last-four clash against powerhouses China, who strolled to a 3-0 win over North Korea in the other morning match.

The women's national captain got Singapore on the scoreboard with a 3-0 (11-2, 11-9, 12-10) win over Suh Hyo Won but the seventh-seeded Koreans immediately levelled the scores.

World No. 11 Jeon Ji Hee dispatched Singapore's Yu Mengyu 3-1 (11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 11-6) in the next tie.

The 13th-ranked Yu, then partnered Zhou Yihan in the following doubles tie. The pair quickly found themselves facing a two-game deficit, losing the opening games 7-11, 4-11 inside 11 minutes.

But the Olympic debutantes fought back 11-4, 12-10 before finally succumbing 7-11 and losing 3-2 overall to Jeon and her partner Yang Ha Eun in a gripping 40-minute encounter.

The Koreans, who were beaten by Singapore in this team event at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, sensed their chance for revenge.

Despite being the lowest-ranked paddler of the six women, Zhou defied her world No. 32 ranking to stun Suh, ranked 14 spots higher, with a 3-0 (11-8, 11-9, 11-8) win to stave off elimination and restore parity in the match.

Feng had fallen in the quarter-finals of the women's singles and was determined not to suffer a similar fate in the team event.

Facing world No. 26 Yang in the deciding tie, Feng kept her nerve and prevailed 3-1 (11-3, 9-11, 16-14, 11-4) which included a tense 14-minute third game to ensure Singapore remain in the medal hunt.

Table tennis has been the country's most successful sport at the Summer Games, bringing home one silver and two bronze medals from the last two editions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 14, 2016, with the headline 'Feng to the fore again'. Print Edition | Subscribe