Asian Games: Sports School paddler Pearlyn Koh in line for Asiad debut after replacing injured Zhou Yihan

Singapore’s table tennis player Zhou Yihan suffered a wrist injury and will not be competing at the Indonesia Asian Games.
Singapore’s table tennis player Zhou Yihan suffered a wrist injury and will not be competing at the Indonesia Asian Games.PHOTO: ST FILE

Sports School teenager, part of 2015 C'wealth C'ships winning team, relishing Asiad debut

A wrist injury has deprived Singapore's women's table tennis team of the services of first-string player Zhou Yihan at the Indonesia Asian Games, which start today.

Stepping up in Jakarta is teenager Pearlyn Koh, a member of the Singapore Table Tennis Association's (STTA) intermediate squad.

The 17-year-old, who is pursuing a diploma in business studies at the Singapore Sports School, is looking forward to her Asiad debut.

She said: "I feel very excited as it is my first time participating in a major Games. I thank the STTA for this opportunity and I hope to learn and gain more experience from it."

Ranked 153rd in the world, Zhou is the fifth highest-ranked women's singles specialist representing the Republic, after Feng Tianwei (11th), Yu Mengyu (47th), Zeng Jian (50th) and Lin Ye (67th).

Eddy Tay, STTA's senior high performance manager, said of the 24-year-old: "It is a pity that Zhou Yihan could not recover in time from her injuries that happened at the Australia Open (last month)."

Pearlyn, whose world ranking is 786th, had already been given some exposure to high-level competition through the intermediate squad.

In 2015, she was part of the side that competed at the Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships. There, she partnered Yee Herng Hwee and Zhang Wanling to win the women's team gold, beating hosts India in the final.

She was also a squad member at May's World Team Table Tennis Championships in Sweden.

Singapore will be spearheaded by veterans Feng and Yu in Jakarta, with Pearlyn, Lin and 18-year-old Zhang completing the team.

In South Korea four years ago, the women shared the bronze medal with North Korea, behind China and Japan. Feng also claimed a joint-bronze in the singles.

The paddlers will start their Asiad campaign on Aug 26 at Jakarta's JIExpo Kemayoran Hall in the women's team event. The draw will be made closer to the competition.

The Zhou-Pearlyn switch marked a series of changes announced by Team Singapore yesterday.

In its latest contingent list, the Republic will field a total of 264 athletes across 21 sports in Indonesia and Palembang.

The changes involve the men's water polo team (Sean Ang replaces Darren Ng), women's rugby sevens (Christabelle Lim for Felicia Teo), women's fencing foil team (Melanie Huang for Nicole Wong) and women's epee team (Elizabeth Lim for Rania Herlina Rahardja).

Sport climbing's Nadirah Azmie withdrew from the Games.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 18, 2018, with the headline 'Pearlyn replaces injured Zhou'. Print Edition | Subscribe