Training pays off for debutante inspired by younger sibling

The Asean Schools Games are 18-year-old Lim Ye Xuen's first international-level event. She will partner Tay Hui Li in the girls' doubles.
The Asean Schools Games are 18-year-old Lim Ye Xuen's first international-level event. She will partner Tay Hui Li in the girls' doubles.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

As the oldest sister, Lim Ye Xuen is used to leading by example but when it comes to table tennis, it is her younger sibling Ye Ning who is the role model.

The latter represented Singapore at last year's Asean Schools Games in Chiang Mai and while she lost both her girls' doubles matches, the then-13-year-old Ye Ning's fighting spirit left a strong impression on Ye Xuen.

The Raffles Institution student had travelled to Thailand to cheer on her sister. Said the 18-year-old Ye Xuen: "Watching her, I thought 'I also want to be out there playing for Singapore'. So I decided to put in more effort this year, train much harder and hopefully get selected for the ASG."

That resolve was apparent during the National School Games in April, as the unseeded Ye Xuen defied expectations and beat several seeded paddlers to win a girls' individual silver medal in the A Division.

En route to the final, Ye Xuen also held her nerve to triumph in two matches that required fifth-game deciders. She said: "I convinced myself that there was less pressure on me; after all, no one expected me to win. I just went out there with the intention of playing my best and see what happens."

She picked up the sport in Nanyang Primary School, with Ye Ning soon following in her sister's footsteps.

The Raffles Girls' School student said: "What I admire most about her is her discipline and determination, her never-say-die attitude. She kept training and pushing herself even when she didn't make the team last year, so I feel really happy for her that her efforts paid off."

It will be her turn to play cheerleader this time round, with the table tennis team events starting today at Toa Payoh Sports Hall.

For Ye Xuen, who will be playing in her first international-level competition, it promises to be a nerve-racking but exciting experience. She will partner Singapore Sports School student Tay Hui Li in the girls' doubles. Ye Xuen said: "Hui Li is quite experienced and really skilled, so I think we do have a shot at a podium finish.

"Even if we don't get a medal, I feel that it's really the experience of playing with players from other countries, making new friends, which I will take away the most."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Training pays off for debutante inspired by younger sibling'. Print Edition | Subscribe