Singapore created sporting history this evening when it stunned China to win the 50th World Team Table Tennis Championships’ women’s title.
The achievement in Moscow is Singapore’s best table tennis result on the world stage to date and also marks the first time the Republic has managed to beat its biggest rival.
Singapore finished second to China at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and at last year’s Asian Championships and World Team Cup.
But this World Team Table Tennis Championships also provided the best opportunity for the Republic to beat China.
This is because the world No. 1 was competing without two of its former No. 1s – Zhang Yining and Wang Nan, who had dominated the last three Olympics and six World Team competitions.
Although the Chinese had replaced Zhang and Wang with current world No. 1 Liu Shiwen, 18, and world No. 4 Ding Ning, 19, the two teenagers lack experience and were making their World Team debuts. As such, there were fears about their ability to deliver the goods under pressure on such a major stage.
Indeed, those fears materialised tonight.
Singapore, which had spent 35 days in centralised training in Taiwan for this tournament, drew first blood when top player Feng Tianwei defeated Ding 3-2.
(8-11, 3-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9). But it was Wang Yuegu’s stunning 3-1 ((11-7, 11-8, 2-11, 12-10) of Liu that made everyone sitting at home in Singapore front of their television sets sit up.
Singapore was leading 2-0 and suddenly an upset was looking like a increasing possibility. But China prevented a 0-3 whitewash when Guo Yan overcame Sun Beibei 3-1 (6-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-6) to reduce the deficit.
And so the match hung on the clash of the world’s top two players. It did not help matters that Feng had not beaten Liu in four encounters prior to this.
But in the end, Feng clinched the world title for Singapore when she overcame Liu 3-2 (11-7, 14-16, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7) in a nerve-wracking encounter.
The Singapore Sports Fan would like to congratulate the Singapore team on their success and for finally overcoming their inability to beat China.
Yours in sport
Singapore Sports Fan