SINGAPORE - Singapore paddlers Feng Tianwei and Chen Feng qualified for the Rio Olympics on Thursday, when they prevailed in stage one of the ongoing Asian Olympic Qualification Tournament in Hong Kong.
Three-time Olympic medallist Feng won the South-east Asia women's singles, beating team-mate Yu Mengyu 4-0 (11-5, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8) in the final.
The Rio Games in August will mark world No. 7 Feng's third Olympics outing.
She is joined by Chen Feng, who beat team-mate Li Hu 4-2 (11-8, 11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4) in the men's final. The 22-year-old had upset Singapore's top-ranked male paddler, world No. 27 Gao Ning, 4-0 (11-2, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5) in the semi-finals.
The qualifying tournament is divided into two stages - regional followed by continental-wide. The men's and women's champions of the five regional tournaments - which ended on Thursday - have qualified for Rio.
The continental-wide stage, in which six more Olympic men's and women's singles spots are up for grabs, begins today.
Going by world rankings, Yu and Gao would be representing Singapore in this segment. But team manager Ong Xiaoxian said the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) has decided not to field anyone in this phase.
She said: "Mengyu will be playing in the Poland Open next week and Gao Ning has just recovered from injury. Considering the needs of the team, the STTA has decided not to field anyone for the second stage."
The Republic's paddlers can still qualify by finishing among the top 22 players in the International Table Tennis Federation's Olympic singles ranking by next month.
Gao is currently 20th on the list, while Yu is 14th. Their rankings are helped by the fact that each National Olympic Committee (NOC) can field only two players in the singles event. NOCs with two qualified singles athletes will qualify for the team event.