Table tennis: Singapore harbour golden hopes on Gold Coast

Singapore were represented by Feng Tianwei (right), Yu Mengyu (left), Zhang Wanling and Yee Herng Hwee.
Singapore were represented by Feng Tianwei (right), Yu Mengyu (left), Zhang Wanling and Yee Herng Hwee. PHOTO: AFP

Coach sees good showing by S'pore's women paddlers in C'wealth Games despite Cup exit

The Singapore women paddlers may have ended their Team World Cup campaign without a medal for the first time in 11 years, but national coach Hao Anlin is "very confident" of a good showing at the upcoming Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

The Republic were knocked out in the quarter-finals on Friday evening (Saturday morning, Singapore time), after a 1-3 loss to world No. 2 side Japan at the Copper Box Arena in London.

But Hao pointed out that the compositions of the World Cup and Commonwealth Games teams will be markedly different.

"At the World Cup, we were mainly dependent on (Feng) Tianwei and (Yu) Mengyu; the other two youngsters are still a few notches below the standards of the players here," he told The Straits Times in a phone interview.

"I am very confident of our chances of winning the gold medals at the Commonwealth Games; other than Tianwei and Mengyu, there are also (Zhou) Yihan and Lin Ye, so our overall team standard will be much higher.

"In contrast, the other countries like Canada, England and India may each have one or two paddlers that we need to take note of, but their overall standards are comparatively weaker than ours."

In the group stage, Singapore lost 1-3 to Hong Kong in the first Group C tie before defeating England 3-1.

TOKYO 2020 CHANCES

It depends on how Tianwei maintains her form, how Mengyu manages her injuries, and how the likes of Yihan and Lin Ye, or even Zeng Jian, progress.

HAO ANLIN, national women's coach, on the prospects for the next Olympics.

Singapore were represented by world No. 3 Feng, Yu (No. 51), Zhang Wanling (No. 263) and Yee Herng Hwee (No. 363) in the British capital.

World No. 30 Zeng Jian is not yet a Singapore citizen, while China-born players Zhou (No. 77) and Lin (No. 88) have to sit out certain competitions, including the World Cup, for seven and five years respectively from the time they took up Singapore citizenship in March 2013, under International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) rules.

But Lin and Zhou will be eligible for selection for the April 4-15 Commonwealth Games, where ITTF rules do not prohibit these paddlers from competing in such major Games.

Three women's titles are on offer in Gold Coast - singles, doubles and team - with also the mixed doubles gold to fight for.

 

Singapore won six golds in seven events at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, with England's Paul and Joanna Drinkhall preventing a clean sweep when they won the mixed doubles.

Beyond that Games, Hao is also optimistic that the Republic can challenge for medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

They failed to win a medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, after clinching a silver and two bronzes in 2008 and 2012 respectively.

The Republic are eighth in the world, behind China, Japan, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, South Korea, Austria and Romania.

Hao said: "We still have a chance to win medals in Tokyo, it depends on how Tianwei maintains her form, how Mengyu manages her injuries, and how the likes of Yihan and Lin Ye, or even Zeng Jian, progress these few years."

ITTF TEAM WORLD CUP Women's & men's finals

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 25, 2018, with the headline 'Golden hopes on gold coast'. Print Edition | Subscribe