Feng Tianwei's future was put on a firmer footing yesterday after the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) confirmed it will support her participation in international competitions, even though she is no longer part of the national set-up.
However, the arrangement for the world No. 5's involvement in the International Table Tennis Federation World Tour circuit is subject to specific "terms and conditions" being met by both parties, said a joint statement from local sport governing body Sport Singapore (SportSG) and the STTA.
The 30-year-old player was axed from the national team on Oct 25 after the STTA said she did not fit into its rejuvenation plans.
As for representing Singapore at major meets like the Olympics and Asian Games, Feng will have to vie for selection like everyone else. The selection policies will be revealed in due course.
Yesterday's move paves the way for the player to remain on the Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship), which means she will continue to receive a monthly stipend that will help her defray the costs of hiring a new team, including a coach and training partner. The triple Olympic medallist is also entitled to receive sports science support.
The scholarship is governed by the High Performance Sports (HPS) Steering Committee, chaired by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.
Mr Toh Boon Yi, chief of the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI), which administers the spexScholarship, said: "For the scholarship to continue, it was dependent on her being able to continue playing at the highest levels of the sport and be in fair consideration for selection to represent Singapore."
Feng told The Straits Times last night: "This comes as a relief, and it will allow me to slowly put my energy and focus back into training. There are still a lot of details to be ironed out, but I'm thankful to SportSG and the SSI for their support, as well as to the STTA for their willingness to work together."
STTA chief executive Wong Hui Leng said: "We are happy to agree with the HPS Steering Committee to continue supporting Feng Tianwei through the spexScholarship."
• Additional reporting from May Chen