Table tennis: STTA manager adds to spate of departures

STTA senior high performance manager Eddy Tay spent eight years with the table tennis governing body, overseeing the national team's exploits, including the triumphant 2010 World Championships.
STTA senior high performance manager Eddy Tay spent eight years with the table tennis governing body, overseeing the national team's exploits, including the triumphant 2010 World Championships.

Eddy Tay to leave for a teaching position, after recent upheavals amid national squads

Already hit by a spate of player departures in recent months, the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) will soon see yet another high-profile exit - this time involving a long-serving official.

The Straits Times understands that senior high performance manager Eddy Tay is leaving the association to take up a lecturer position teaching sport management, and will serve his last day on Jan 31.

Tay, 39, has been involved with many of Singapore table tennis' greatest exploits in recent years since joining the STTA's high performance set-up in November 2008.

This includes the women's team's historic win over table tennis powerhouse China at the 2010 World Championships in Moscow, the 2012 London Olympics in which the Republic won two bronzes, as well as many other major Games.

STTA chief executive officer Wong Hui Leng confirmed his resignation to ST yesterday.

She said: "Eddy has taken up new opportunities for his career advancement. We would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his eight years of service and we wish him all the best for the future."

Tay's departure comes on the back of a string of recent player exits that have rocked the STTA in the last three months, the most high profile of which was world No. 5 Feng Tianwei's exclusion from the national team in October last year.

The STTA said then that the 30-year-old did not fit into its plans for team rejuvenation.

Former men's national player and then-world No. 58 Li Hu - a former world junior singles champion - was sacked for disciplinary issues that same month.

Three-time Olympian Gao Ning, ranked No. 47, is in the twilight of his career as he turns 35 this year and is transitioning to a role as player-assistant coach. He is expected to hang up his bat after the Asian Games in 2018.

Yang Zi, another veteran, announced his retirement less than a fortnight ago owing to a degeneration of the cervical spine.

Despite the upheaval of the past few months, the STTA maintained that neither team morale nor preparations for upcoming events like August's SEA Games are affected.

Said Wong: "We have taken everything in stride and have never lost our focus. At the recent South-east Asia table tennis championships, our youth talents scored nine medals. This proved that we are on the right track.

"We will continue to work hard and bring greater sporting glory for Singapore."

Tay said he will look back most fondly on the 2010 world team title, as well as local-born paddler Isabelle Li's silver medal at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games that same year.

He said: "I'm grateful to the STTA for giving me the opportunity to lead one of the most successful sports in Singapore."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 18, 2017, with the headline 'STTA manager adds to spate of departures'. Print Edition | Subscribe