SINGAPORE - The Republic has been assured its first gold and silver medals of the SEA Games, after paddlers Feng Tianwei and company won their respective women's doubles semi-finals on Tuesday afternoon.
Feng and Yu Mengyu first booked their spots when they trounced Malaysia's Ho Ying and Lee Rou You 11-9, 11-7, 11-8, 11-4 in their semi-final with minimal hassle.
But it was Singapore's other pair, Zhou Yihan and Lin Ye, that had a markedly more difficult match. The duo came from two games down to beat Nanthana Komwong and Suthasini Sawettabut of Thailand in a closely fought contest, eventually winning 7-11, 9-11, 11-3, 11-5, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8.
Having beaten the same opponents easily the last time they met at the International Table Tennis Federation Korea Open last year, Zhou and Lin came up against much fiercer opposition this time.
Said Lin: "We felt okay going into the match, but definitely got very nervous after we lost that fifth game, and were not able to play to our usual standards."
Added Zhou: "You can see that this time round they were very well prepared to play us. But we believed in each other and had confidence in ourselves."
The women will play their final at 7pm.
In the men's doubles, Gao Ning and Li Hu beat their Vietnamese opponents Tran Tuan Quynh and Nguyen Anh Tu 11-1, 11-7, 11-6, 11-2 to also book a spot in the men's doubles final scheduled for 7.50pm.
Chen Feng and Clarence Chew, however, had to settle for bronze after losing their semi-final. Despite a valiant comeback, they were beaten 7-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 4-11 by Thailand's Padasak Tanviriyavechakul and Chanakarn Udomsilp.
Said Chew: "We knew it would be a tough fight, but we lost the first two games way too easily and didn't stick to our strategy enough. We're disappointed to not have made the final, but there's still the singles event for me to focus on."
The singles event also began on Tuesday, with Singapore's women posting easy victories in their respective round robin matches.
Isabelle Li beat Myanmar's San Khin Kaung 11-4, 11-1, 11-1, while Feng Tianwei, the world No. 4, took out Philippines Ian Lariba 11-6, 11-6, 11-2.