Table tennis: Five things to know about S’pore’s Izaac Quek

Singapore's Izaac Quek upset Sweden's world No. 36 Mattias Falck in the men's singles round of 32 at the Singapore Smash. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

Teenager Izaac Quek has been making waves at the Singapore Smash 2023 after beating much higher-ranked and more illustrious opponents in India’s world No. 51 and Commonwealth Games champion Sharath Kamal Achanta, as well as Sweden’s world No. 36 and men’s doubles world champion Mattias Falck. Just who is this Singaporean table tennis sensation?

1. He doesn’t get dizzy from spinning

The 16-year-old started playing the sport when he was seven after choosing the sport as his primary school co-curricular activity.

Currently a student at the Singapore Sports School, the Ma Long fan said: “What makes table tennis interesting is the spin on the ball, which I really like. Having a lot of spin means players must be fully focused during matches while thinking of how to win the next point.

“This can be not just physically tiring, but mentally as well. But I enjoy this challenge.”

2. He doesn’t get big-headed from achievements

He was just 14 when he became the first Singaporean to top the Under-15 boys singles world ranking in April 2021, and he has now become the first Singaporean to make it to the round of 16 of the star-studded Singapore Smash.

When the new world rankings are released on March 21, he and men’s doubles partner Koen Pang are set to become the first local-born players to crack the men’s singles top 100.

Without batting an eyelid, Izaac said: “That’s good to know but there is still a long way to go.

“My ultimate goal is to reach the Olympics and win a medal, and I still have a lot of work to do to get there.”

3. His family is behind him all the way

Izaac’s father David Quek is a 53-year-old manager at a European company, while his mother Chew Soon is a 52-year-old housewife. He also has a 20-year-old sister who does not play the sport.

While they declined to reveal how much they have invested in their son’s sporting ambitions, Quek said: “We let him choose the path he wants to take because what is most important is that he is happy. It is not the money that matters, because we also invested a lot of our time to be there for him.”

Chew added: “Izaac can be away from home quite a lot because of overseas competitions, but he will communicate with us every day and we will remind him to eat and sleep well.

“I will also try to take care of his nutritional needs when he is home and we believe these help him psychologically before competitions. We never pressure him about results, and will just encourage him to learn from previous matches and do better than before.”

4. He is still a mommy’s boy

Mum’s cooking was Izaac’s response when asked what is his favourite food, leading to Pang teasing: “Very PR answer.”

When pressed for details, it did sound pretty legit as he rattled off: “Japanese ramen, udon, beef bowl...”

5. He is pretty clutch at video games too

While Izaac doesn’t play other sports, he does a fair bit of gaming in his free time, and he bonds with his teammates over Valorant.

Instantaneously, Pang pointed to Izaac when asked who the best Valorant player in the team is.

So, will he consider a career switch to esports? “No, I still prefer active sports,” was his reply.

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