STTA president confident in Singapore's medal chances in Kuala Lumpur

STTA president Ellen Lee (centre) and Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei (right) playing bingo with elderly residents at Man Fut Tong nursing home on Feb 25, 2016.
STTA president Ellen Lee (centre) and Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei (right) playing bingo with elderly residents at Man Fut Tong nursing home on Feb 25, 2016.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

SINGAPORE - Singapore may be fielding a relatively weakened women's team at the World Team Table Tennis Championships, which starts this Sunday (Feb 28) in Kuala Lumpur.

Of the five players, two - Yee Herng Hwee and Zhang Wanling - have not seen action at the championship. With Isabelle Li still recovering from injury, the Republic's hopes lie with world No. 8 Feng Tianwei and world No. 34 Yu Mengyu.

But Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) president Ellen Lee is confident her charges can deliver a medal at the tournament.

After all, the women have finished on the podium in the last four editions, including stunning powerhouses China and winning it for the first time in 2010.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the team's visit to Man Fut Tong Nursing Home on Thursday (Feb 25), Lee said: "I will be very disappointed if we don't come back with a medal. The (players') mindset is pretty strong, they have already set this as a target for themselves, that they want to win a medal for Singapore."

The women are coached by former Netherlands coach Chen Zhibin, who hails from China. Chen took over from Liu Jiayi on Feb 15, who himself replaced previous head coach Jing Junhong last November. They have been drawn with Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, France and Belarus in the group stage.

Feng did not get past the round of 16 in her last two tournaments, and had said she was struggling with confidence issues, as well as adapting to a larger ball introduced in July 2014.

She said: "It's been a week, but so far the chemistry has been good with the new coach, but we need to bring this to the competition. The preparation period has been quite short,but everything's good and it's all about whether we can be at our best during the competition."

siangyee@sph.com.sg