Table tennis: STTA confirms support for Feng Tianwei's participation in international competitions

Feng Tianwei in action during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games table tennis women's team round 1 against Egypt in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug 12, 2016. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - Feng Tianwei's hopes of representing Singapore on the international stage received a boost when the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) confirmed it will support her competing on the professional International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) World Tour circuit.

Feng, 30, was axed from the national team last Tuesday (Oct 25), after the STTA said she did not fit into their rejuvenation plans.

According to a a joint statement from local sport governing body Sport Singapore and the STTA sent on Friday (Nov 4), the STTA's support is subject to "terms and conditions met by both parties".

The same release said STTA will also consider the world No. 5 for international competitions like the Olympics and Asian Games if she meets the selection criteria, which will be revealed in due course.

To represent Singapore at major Games, an athlete typically has to first be nominated by the National Sports Association, before being endorsed by the Singapore National Olympic Council.

The situation is slightly different for events on the ITTF professional circuit, where no approval from the SNOC is required. The ITTF said only that each association can field up to six players per category.

The decision to drop Feng was part of the STTA's new high performance plan, following a lacklustre outing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, where the Singapore's women's table tennis team returned empty-handed for the first time in three editions.

With her status as a Team Singapore athlete secure, the triple Olympic medallist will remain a Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship) recipient.

The scholarship is governed by the High Performance Sports (HPS) Steering Committee, which is chaired by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu.

Toh Boon Yi, chief of Singapore Sports Institute, the body which administers the Spex scholarship, said: "Feng Tianwei has satisfied conditions of the spexScholarship programme. For the scholarship to continue, it was dependant on the ability for her to continue playing at the highest levels of the sport and be in fair consideration for selection to represent Singapore."

STTA chief executive officer Wong Hui Leng said: "We are happy to agree with the HPS Steering Committee to continue supporting Feng Tianwei through the spexScholarship. As the National Sport Association, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to develop table tennis in Singapore.

Feng said: "I am happy to have the opportunity to continue representing Singapore. And I thank STTA and the HPS Steering Committee for their support."

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