18-year winning streak in women's doubles halted

CLARK • The Singapore women paddlers' iron grip on the SEA Games doubles gold since 1999 was ended by Thailand in the semi-finals yesterday.

There was double misery when compatriots Koen Pang and Josh Chua were beaten to the men's gold at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The scratch women's pair of Feng Tianwei and Lin Ye, who replaced the injured Yu Mengyu at the 11th hour, were pegged back to 2-2 and led 5-2 and 9-8 in the decider.

But they succumbed 7-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9 to Nanthana Komwong and Jinnipa Sawaettabut, the younger sister of 2015 singles champion Suthasini, who had upset Feng in the group stage.

Feng said: "We do not necessarily have the upper hand.

"The Thais have been playing together for some time and have more chemistry. It was not like it was a sure win."

Goi Rui Xuan and Wong Xin Ru were 2-0 up, but also ended up losing 4-11, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4 to Orawan Paranang and Suthasini.

The all Singapore-born men's squad fared better. Chua and Pang beat Malaysia's Ashraf Haiqal Rizal and Wong Shen 6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6 in the last four. But Doan Ba Tuan Anh and Nguyen Anh Tu were just too strong as Vietnam won the event for the first time since 2009.

Chua said after the 11-6, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4 loss: "We fought very well against Vietnam, we were a bit nervous and our opponents were more experienced. It's a pity we weren't able to get the gold."

The paddlers finished the day with one silver and two bronze medals and, with only four events contested in the Philippines, will have only two more chances to claim gold - in the singles.

In Kuala Lumpur 2017, they won five of the seven golds.

Singapore Table Tennis Association president Ellen Lee said they were disappointed to lose the women's doubles.

She said: "Unfortunately, our opponents played better. We need to focus on the singles. We are always behind our paddlers and they have vowed to come back stronger."

Low Lin Fhoong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 08, 2019, with the headline '18-year winning streak in women's doubles halted'. Print Edition | Subscribe