Paddlers Feng, Yu fail to win gold for Singapore

Above: Para-sprinter Mohammad Khairi Ishak was slapped with a four-year ban after failing a doping test. Left: Feng Tianwei in her bronze medal match against Canada's Zhang Mo yesterday. World No. 4 Feng had lost to 58th-ranked Manika Batra of India
Feng Tianwei in her bronze medal match against Canada's Zhang Mo yesterday. World No. 4 Feng had lost to 58th-ranked Manika Batra of India in the semi-finals.ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN
Above: Para-sprinter Mohammad Khairi Ishak was slapped with a four-year ban after failing a doping test. Left: Feng Tianwei in her bronze medal match against Canada's Zhang Mo yesterday. World No. 4 Feng had lost to 58th-ranked Manika Batra of India
Para-sprinter Mohammad Khairi Ishak was slapped with a four-year ban after failing a doping test. ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Shock defeat at Commonwealth Games comes on day para-sprinter gets 4-year ban for doping

It was a day of shocks for Singapore athletes at the Commonwealth Games and at home yesterday.

Para-sprinter Mohammad Khairi Ishak, who was originally part of the 60-strong contingent bound for the Gold Coast but did not travel to Australia, was slapped with a four-year ban by the National Anti-Doping Disciplinary Committee after failing a doping test.

It is believed to be the second-longest suspension for a drug offence handed to a local athlete after bodybuilder Jojo Sinclair received a life ban in 1996.

The 28-year-old Khairi had tested positive for methandienone, an anabolic steroid, in an out-of-competition test on March 12, for which he was provisionally suspended on April 6.

The ban has been backdated to the start of his provisional suspension on April 6.

That news was matched by further humiliation for the mighty women's table tennis team as Singapore's stranglehold on the Commonwealth women's singles title since 2006 ended last night. This came after they lost the team title to India last Sunday.

World No. 4 Feng Tianwei, a three-time Olympic medallist and the 2010 and 2014 Games singles champion, was upset 3-4 by 58th-ranked Manika Batra of India in the semi-finals at the Oxenford Studios yesterday. She eventually settled for the bronze.

Singapore's No. 2 Yu Mengyu, part of the historic 2010 World Championship-winning team alongside Feng, was then thrashed 4-0 by Batra, a Games debutante, in the final.

A visibly upset Feng, 31, told The Sunday Times that she "had prepared well and played well in the match today". But she blamed her nerves and an inability to adjust to a change in her opponent's strategy.

"It was a very big pity to lose like that," she added.

Yu, 28, was left befuddled by the 22-year-old Batra, who a year ago was world No. 91.

The Singaporean, who is ranked 50th but has far more experience than the Indian, said: "It could have been different if I had called time-out when she started to catch up in the first game. If I had won that game, I could have controlled the tempo and the result could have been different."

It was left to veteran Gao Ning to provide the remaining Singapore contingent with something to cheer about. The 35-year-old beat England's Samuel Walker 4-0 in the men's singles semi-finals and will face Nigerian Quadri Aruna in today's final.

Gao and Yu are also in action in the mixed doubles final today, offering Singapore a chance to end their Commonwealth Games campaign on a positive note.

Singapore have won three gold, two silver and two bronze medals so far in Australia, well below the 2014 haul of eight gold, five silver and four bronze medals.

  • Additional reporting by Lim Say Heng

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 15, 2018, with the headline 'Paddlers Feng, Yu fail to win gold for Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe