The building blocks of the latter part of Feng Tianwei's career will take a different form, but its foundation will continue to be in Singapore.
The world No. 6, no longer part of the Singapore Table Tennis Assoc- iation's (STTA) national set-up, told The Straits Times yesterday that moving forward, she hopes to build her own support team. "It is something that no paddler has ever tried in Singapore," she said.
While she said she has not had much time to map out the details, it will ideally include support in the areas of coaching, sparring and fitness training.
Feng, who has nine singles titles from the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) professional circuit, beat China's Liu Shiwen last year to win the Asian Cup, and also finished third at the recent Women's World Cup. She said she intends to continue competing in international competitions under Singapore's auspices.
She said: "I still hope to take part in the open tournaments, including representing Singapore at the World Championships, the Olympics and other major Games like before. My world ranking is still there. I hope I will be given a fair chance to enter international competitions."
While the 2020 Tokyo Olympics remain firmly in her plans, Feng said her immediate focus will be to regain the women's singles gold at next year's SEA Games.
She suffered a shock loss to Thailand's Suthasini Sawettabut - then ranked 107th in the world - last year, ending the Republic's 20-year domination of the event.
"I want to win back what the country lost last year, and help to maintain Singapore's traditional strength in the women's team event," said Feng.
"That is my short-term focus for now."
Her hopes of competing as a professional on the ITTF circuit are subject to endorsement by the STTA. The association said it intends to meet Feng to work out the terms and conditions concerning her playing status.
Feng said she will meet the STTA to discuss these conditions, as long as it is within reason.
She said: "This was something that nobody thought would happen. But because of this, I have a new beginning, a new possibility."