Singapore paddler Li Jiawei has dropped a bombshell at the Beijing Olympics after her heart-breaking loss in the women’s bronze medal play-off.
The 27-year-old, who, earlier this week, had helped Singapore to win the women’s team silver and break its 48-year medal drought at the Olympics, has revealed to Shin Min Daily News that she is tired after being a full-time athlete for 13 years and that she plans to study at the Peking University next year.
A day after her 2-4 loss to world no 2 Guo Yue in the third-and-fourth play-offs, the second time that she has lost the bronze decider, Li told Shin Min that the Beijing Games is likely to be her last Olympics. She also thanked Singapore for developing her into a world-class player.
Then she dropped the bombshell.
“I will be playing for the Peking University’s table tennis club in Ocotber,” she said. “As a result, I am also thinking of enrolling in the Peking University for studies.”
However, the three-time Singapore Sportswoman of the Year added that she has not confirmed her plans and that she will only make a decision when after she returns to Singapore and after discussions with the Singapore Table Tennis Association about her future.
“I’ve trained for so many years so I am feeling a bit tired,” she said.
“I’m also already 27. All these years, I have missed out on the opportunity to do so many other things. I’ve not had the chance to study either.
“But these are just my thoughts for now. I will go back to Singapore and have a discussion with the STTA president first.”
Li, a former trainee at the Beijing Sports School along with world no1 Zhang Yining, was spotted by STTA officials during a scouting trip in 1995 and persuaded to come to Singapore to don national colours.
She was only 13 then. She did not go through the Singapore education system during her 13 years as a full-time trainee. However, she is currently the world no 6 and has won countless SEA and Commonwealth Games table-tennis titles and a handful of Asian Games medals.
These wins for Singapore, as well as her successes on the ITTF Pro-Circuit have helped her to earn close to a million dollars in awards and winnings.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan