Singapore's Yang Zi and Yu Mengyu's fairy-tale run at the Asian Table Tennis Championships ended at the final hurdle last night.
It took top seeds Fan Zhendong and Chen Meng of China to bring an end to the unseeded giant-killers' fine run at the biennial tournament. The Singaporean pair lost the mixed doubles final 8-11, 3-11, 5-11, 9-11 and had to settle for the silver medal.
It was Singapore's first piece of silverware at this meet but it will not be the only one for the Republic.
Within minutes after the conclusion of the mixed doubles final, Feng Tianwei delivered more joy by assuring the Singapore camp of at least a bronze medal in the women's singles.
Feng, the world No. 7, upset Chinese world No. 2 Liu Shiwen 11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 13-11 in the quarter-finals.
The Singaporean advanced to the last four, where she is guaranteed at least a bronze medal as there is no play-off for third place.
OTHER TEAM SINGAPORE RESULTS
Rd of 32: Clarence Chew lost to Zhang Jike (Chn) 11-6, 7-11, 4-11, 7-11, 7-11
Yang Zi lost to Jung Young Sik (Kor) 11-7, 10-12, 10-12, 5-11, 11-6, 9-11
Rd of 16: Yu Mengyu lost to Mima Ito (Jpn) 3-11, 8-11, 7-11, 0-11
Q-final: Feng Tianwei beat Liu Shiwen (Chn) 11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 13-11
She will take on China's world No. 8 Chen today.
Yang and Yu's second-place finish matched Singapore's best performance in the mixed doubles at the tournament.
In 2012, Gao Ning and Li Jiawei also clinched a silver.
Still, the Singaporean pair can be proud of the waves they created in Pattaya, Thailand this week. They rocked the draw by pulling off a few notable upsets.
They had stunned second seeds Fang Bo and Mu Zi of China in the round of 16, and then knocked out the experienced sixth-seeded pair of Jiang Tianyi and Lee Ho Ching of Hong Kong in the quarter-finals.
They brought their battling form into the semi-finals yesterday afternoon, going the distance against the tenacious North Koreans Choe Il and Ri Mi Gyong before winning 11-6, 11-5, 7-11, 11-9, 13-15, 15-13.
National women's coach Jing Junhong said Yang and Yu had surpassed expectations.
She said: "The whole journey (to the final) was rather difficult.
"We encountered more experienced and tougher opponents whose standards were very high."
Yang added: "When the draw first came out, it wasn't favourable for us. It was not what we wanted.
"But we just took it one match at a time. To enter the final was not easy and it is a rare opportunity for us."
Jing revealed that besides facing the mighty Chinese, the Singaporean duo suffered another disadvantage. Yu was battling a bout of food poisoning throughout the day.
"She was struggling from the second game of the mixed doubles semi-finals and, towards the end of her women's singles match, she could not even stand straight," said the coach.
"She took medicine and rested for about two hours. And she just persevered."
Jing insisted that there was no shame in the duo failing to capture the gold, which would have been only the third crown for Singapore in 31 editions of the tournament.
"Both of their (Fan and Chen's) individual skills are more superior than our players'," she explained.
"No matter what the final result is, we have done well in this competition."
ASIAN TABLE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Men's doubles/women's singles finals: StarHub Ch202, 8.30pm