Asean Schools Games 2017

Asean Schools Games: Childhood friends show they still have chemistry in table tennis doubles despite long hiatus as a pair

Singapore's Gerald Yu (left) and Josh Chua in the boys' doubles final against Vietnam's Le Dinh Duc and Nguyen Anh Duc at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall. They won 11-3, 11-8, 11-6.
Singapore's Gerald Yu (left) and Josh Chua in the boys' doubles final against Vietnam's Le Dinh Duc and Nguyen Anh Duc at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall. They won 11-3, 11-8, 11-6.PHOTO: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

Old doubles partners Josh and Gerald reunite and drop just one game en route to gold

They may have been paired together only on the eve of the Asean Schools Games (ASG), but that did not stop Singapore table tennis duo Josh Chua and Gerald Yu from delivering gold in the boys' doubles.

Gerald, who has been friends with Josh since they were nine, said: "I was supposed to be with my schoolmate but the coaches changed the pairings.

"Maybe (our coach) saw the chemistry between us when we played together (in training)."

The last-minute change paid dividends as they defeated Vietnam's Le Dinh Duc and Nguyen Anh Duc 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 in the final at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall yesterday.

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They dropped only one game in four matches en route to victory.

Josh said they "didn't take long to get back in the swing of things".

"We were in the same youth development squad, and trained at the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) every day except Sunday," explained the 16-year-old, who was also the singles bronze medallist.

"In primary school, we got paired a few times for local competitions, and when we played with seniors we almost beat them, so we still have that chemistry."

Coming from Catholic High School and Pei Hwa Presbyterian Primary School respectively, Josh and Gerald were paired together in the youth development squad when they were both 10.

That partnership ended when they progressed to secondary school, with Josh going to Raffles Institution while Gerald headed to the Singapore Sports School.

That also saw them go from team-mates to rivals as they faced off earlier this year at the National Schools Games B boys' singles semi-finals, which Josh won.

As part of the development squad, they both trained in Shanghai during their June and December holidays, when late nights spent bunking together strengthened their friendship.

Josh said that his fondest memories would be going overseas for training and having fun playing card games and truth or dare.

Immediately after winning the final, Josh and Gerald performed a simultaneous dab (a simple dance move) to celebrate their victory.

Josh said: "Before the match we were thinking of some silly celebration, we thought about dabbing."

Singapore's other medal yesterday came in the girls' singles final, where Singapore's Zermaine Lew fell 7-11, 7-11, 4-11 to Malaysia's Tee Ai Xin and settled for the silver.

Singapore topped the table tennis standings with eight medals: three golds, two silvers and three bronzes.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 20, 2017, with the headline 'Childhood friends show chemistry'. Print Edition | Subscribe