Asean Schools Games 2017

Asean School Games: S'pore turn the tables on rivals Vietnam and clinch table tennis gold

From left: Singapore's victorious paddlers Josh Chua, Gerald Yu, Dominic Koh, Beh Kun Ting, Shawn Chua, Bevan Tan, and coach Tan Chiew Sern.
From left: Singapore's victorious paddlers Josh Chua, Gerald Yu, Dominic Koh, Beh Kun Ting, Shawn Chua, Bevan Tan, and coach Tan Chiew Sern.PHOTO COURTESY OF MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

Boys' team rebound from group-stage loss to Vietnam to win gold against same opponents

Fuelled by their earlier loss to Vietnam in the table tennis boys' team event group stages, Singapore's paddlers gained revenge in the final with a 3-0 win over the same opponents to clinch gold at this year's Asean Schools Games.

The victory was especially sweet, said boys' captain Bevan Tan, as he and his team-mates celebrated at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.

"Coming up against them again in the finals, there was definitely some added incentive," said the 17-year-old Hwa Chong Institution student.

"As a team, we are very proud of this achievement. From the start, we all believed that we could win so we are very happy to live up to our own expectations."

The hosts lost 1-3 to Vietnam in Saturday's group stages but still advanced to yesterday's semi-finals, where they beat Malaysia 3-1.

In the previous tie against the Vietnamese, Singapore started poorly, losing the first two matches to cede the initiative.

But they got off to a quick start yesterday afternoon as Singapore Sports School's (SSP) Beh Kun Ting gave the Republic the lead with a 10-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 win over Nguyen Anh Duc.

School-mate Gerald Yu then notched a 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7 victory over Le Dinh Duc.

It was left to Raffles Institution's Josh Chua, 16, to seal the title.

Up against Vietnamese paddler Nguyen Dang Hiep, he lost the first game 9-11 and found himself trailing in each of the next three games but fought back in each to win 11-9, 11-8, 13-11.

Josh said: "I remembered what my coach would always tell me, to not think about whether I was winning or losing and to play every point as if it were still 0-0."

The manner of victory was not only pleasing, but also "testament to the boys' maturity", said Singapore team coach Tan Chiew Sern.

"The boys did a lot of self-evaluation (after the loss), I didn't really do anything special or extra, it was all them," he added.

In the girls' event, Singapore missed out on a medal after finishing third in their group behind Malaysia and Vietnam. Only the top two advance to the semi-finals.

The result, although "regretful", would be valuable experience for the team, said Singapore team captain Zermaine Lew.

"I'm glad that everyone fought hard. We will definitely learn from this experience as we proceed to the individual events." she added.

The table tennis competition continues today with the mixed doubles as well as singles events.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2017, with the headline 'S'pore turn the tables on rivals'. Print Edition | Subscribe