Category Archives: Singapore Table Tennis Association

Wang Yuegu is now Singapore’s No. 1 paddler – and deservedly so

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

Feng’s ranking drops; Wang now tops here

(The Straits Times, 06 April 2012)

SINGAPORE suffered a blow when the latest table tennis world rankings were released yesterday.

Feng Tianwei, 25, has slipped from being the fifth-ranked woman player in the world to No. 9, a result that almost certainly means that the Republic is no longer the No. 2 team in the world.

‘I was expecting my ranking to drop because of my losses at the World Team Championships, but I didn’t think it would be this much,’ she said yesterday.

She suffered four losses in Dortmund, Germany, late last month.

Wang Yuegu, now the highest-ranked Singaporean at No. 7, and Li Jiawei (No. 14) both rose a rung each, but Feng’s slip could have greater repercussions.

Singapore is likely to be overtaken by Japan for the No. 2 spot. This, despite the team clawing their way to a silver in Dortmund. Japan, the third seeds there, finished fifth.

A country’s team ranking is a good indicator of its Olympic seeding, which is based on the rankings of the three players who qualified for the Games, and their head-to-head records with the other qualifiers.

It is important for Singapore to be seeded second at the Olympics because it would mean avoiding favourites China until the team final.

But with just three months to go before the draw for the London Games is expected, a rankings slip could hit Singapore’s chances of retaining its women’s team silver.

The world team rankings were been released yesterday.

Feng and Co are now in a race to chalk up ranking points over the six International Table Tennis Federation Pro Tour events before the Olympics.

But the national captain remains confident of climbing back up the rungs, saying: ‘Rankings go up and down all the time. There is still time between now and the Olympics, and I will do everything I can to climb back up.

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My thoughts:

Although Feng Tianwei’s drop in the world rankings means possible trouble for Singapore as they seek to cling on to their silver medal at this July’s London Olympics, I can’t help but feel that Wang Yuegu’s elevation to to the status of top Singapore player is well-deserved.

Wang was undoubtedly Singapore’s top performer at the recent World Table Tennis Team Championships. After all, she was the one who saved the Republic twice from near-certain defeat by winning the all-important rubber matches against Germany in the quarter-finals, and against South Korea in the semis.

I also couldn’t help feeling a little proud as I read about how she, enraged by some of the officials’ decisions against her in the early stages of the tournament,  decided to let fly at them, and question their competence and professionalism.

Here’s one of her best quotes after one such incident:

“I don’t need to respect officials who have these kinds of standards. I want to tell European umpires: I’m not afraid of offending you – worse come to worst, I just won’t play.  I just hope that they improve their standards, and don’t keep thinking that they are superior.”

You see what I mean? It was really jaw-dropping stuff from Wang.

I remember subsequently reading with relish the daily reports of her verbal spats with the ITTF’s European  officials and umpires, and thinking that this was such a refreshing change from the vanilla image that the women’s table tennis team has always projected – one that, perhaps, is due to the tightly-controlled, well-crafted, well-rehearsed, and ultimately very ‘unhappening’  responses that they always seem to have for the media.

I don’t know why Wang is suddenly appearing to be so feisty. Maybe she has always been so, but we have not been made aware of it.

Or maybe it is because she is now happily married, is well aware that she is entering the twilight of her playing career, and as such, does not feel the need to show the same sort of restraint as her younger teammates.

Whatever the reason, she was a joy to watch, and read about at the World Championships.

Truly, she was the epitome of fighting spirit in the Singapore team, and this was one of the very few times that I actually felt a sense of pride as I watched a naturalised citizen in national colours.

And it is about time Wang became Singapore’s No. 1 too.

After all, she has always been playing the supporting role of the lowly bridesmaid to Li Jiawei and then to Feng, who have always been portrayed as the stars of the women’s squad.

I am sure Wang’s new ranking will not change things in the team. She is unlikely to be regarded as the team’s new leader. But at least she can still quietly savour her achievement.  And at least, her long-time, as well as new-found, supporters (like me) can also rejoice with her from afar.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

P/S: By the way, Wang has a fanpage on Facebook. You can check it out at  https://www.facebook.com/wangygfc

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A reminder of the value of my passport in Singapore sports

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

Zhang ‘sacked’ by SBA

(The Straits Times, 24 Mar 2011)

By Jonathan Wong

NATIONAL shuttler Zhang Beiwen has paid the price for her string of disciplinary problems.

The 20-year-old, who has been serving a suspension since Jan 5 – the second time in six months the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) has punished her – was informed by the association that her contract, which expires next Thursday, will not be extended.

‘It was not renewed,’ Zhang confirmed to The Straits Times last night. ‘I have a lot of thoughts about this decision but I don’t want to talk about it… There’s no use talking about it.’

Officials at the SBA declined to comment when contacted yesterday.

Zhang’s latest punishment arose after an alleged falling-out with singles chief coach Luan Ching, who felt that she had again defied his orders by breaking curfew over the New Year period.

Described in the past as a ‘problematic player’, Zhang was subsequently dropped from the national squad and barred from all training sessions since the start of the year.

Last May, she had received a three-month suspension without pay for displaying a poor attitude in training and tournaments, and for failing to carry out instructions from her coach.

The China-born Zhang came to Singapore in 2003 under the Foreign Sports Talent scheme and took up citizenship in 2007 when she was part of the Singapore squad that clinched a team bronze at the World Youth Championships.

But in April 2008, she walked out on the national team to play for various clubs in countries like Malaysia and Taiwan.

She was eventually persuaded to return seven months later and made her South-east Asia Games debut in December 2009, helping Singapore to a team bronze medal.

Once the country’s highest-ranked women’s singles player at world No. 28 last year, she was a notable absentee from the Republic’s team sheet at both the Malaysian Open and Korea Open in January and also the prestigious All-England Championships earlier this month.

Her ranking, however, has since dropped to No. 74, making her the lowest-ranked shuttler in the SBA stable that include compatriots Gu Juan (No.32), Fu Mingtian (42), Chen Jiayuan (48) and Xing Aiying (59).

But her ability on the badminton courts is unquestioned. At the Hong Kong Open last December, her last competitive outing, she took a set off then-world No. 1 Wang Xin of China before losing in three games.

While her chequered past has been well documented, Zhang’s future remains murky. When asked if she intends to stay in Singapore or return to China, she was again evasive.

‘I’m still thinking about it, nothing is confirmed yet,’ she said.

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My thoughts:

What are the chances of the sacked Zhang Beiwen going back to China?

Very high, I suspect, especially if she does not have any other academic or coaching qualifications to help her to make a living in Singapore.

And when she does, another red Singapore passport will be thrown into a rubbish bin because the athlete no longer has a need for it.

I am not blaming Zhang in this instance. If she has no family here, she will have no choice but to leave.

Her case reminds me of how throwers Du Xianhui and Zhang Guirong had to leave Singapore for China in 2006 after being dropped by the Singapore Athletics Association.

But in the past decade, we have also witnessed other FSTs who left Singapore on their own accord soon after getting their citizenship.

Three immediately spring to mind:

* Zhang Xueling (table tennis), who became a citizen in 2001 but left in 2007 to get married in China after winning a string of Commonwealth and SEA Games titles;

* thrower Dong Enxin who went AWOL in 2007 after getting his citizenship in 2001; and

* Xiao Luxi (badminton) who quit in 2004, a year after getting her citizenship, to go back to China because she was burnt out.

And what about the six hockey players from China who were recruited for the national women’s team back in the early years of the new millennium? I hear most have since returned to their country of birth after things did not pan out.

And I am sure there will be more examples to come in the coming years.

Bottom line: this is what the blessed Foreign Sports Talent scheme has effectively reduced our Singapore citizenship to — a cheap bauble easily given away to foreign-born athletes, most of whom, in turn, will easily cast it aside when they no longer have any use for it.

My deepest thanks to all these national sports associations who actively recruit foreign-born athletes to fill their national squads, for helping me to realise just how cheap my citizenship can be.

I am grateful, really I am.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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Sailors may have to be the ones to break Singapore’s golden duck at Asiad

Singapore’s sailors are looking strong for three gold medals at the Asian Games after six races.

At the Shanwei Water Sports Centre yesterday, the Republic’s Colin Cheng  continued to lead in the Laser Standard while 420 pairs Justin Liu and Sherman Cheng and Rachel Lee and Cecilia Low were the pacesetters in the boys’ and girls’ events.

Also in the hunt for a podium finish were Ryan Lo (Optimist Boys) and the men’s 470 duo of Roy Tay and Terence Koh.

Singapore has yet to win a gold at the 16th Asiad in Guangzhou.

Although our bowlers finally came away with medals in the Women’s Singles final, after firing blanks in Men’s singles on Monday, the gold remains elusive.

Rising kegler Shayna Ng has won a silver while compatriot New Hui Fen won a bronze.

Ng , 21, scored a total of 1,342 pinfalls, 53 pinfalls behind gold medallist Sun Ok Hwang from South Korea.

But she also created history en route to her silver success by becoming the first bowler to score a perfect game of 300 in the competition.

The Asian Games debutant achieved that mark in her fourth game.

New, 1 and the youngest member of the Singapore bowling team, took the bronze after finishing a pinfall behind Ng.  

Meanwhile, former AMF world champion Jasmine Yeong-Nathan was forced to settle for 15th place and Geraldine Ng finished ninth.

The Singapore women’s table tennis team were outplayed 0-3 by China in the final. This is the seoncond victory that China has scored over Singapore in three meetings this year.

Singapore fielded Wang Yuegu in the first singles and the world No. 7 went down 0-3 to China world No. 8 Li Xiaoxia.

Feng Tianwei went up against current world No. 1 Guo Yan and also suffered a 3-0 defeat.

Singapore opted for veteran Li Jiawei instead of Sun Beibei  in the third singles, but the 29-year-old was unable to stop China’s winning momentum, going down 0-3 to Guo Yue.

The defeat means that Singapore’s 3-1 victory over China in the World Table Tennis Team Championships in Moscow in May is now a distant memory. Since then, China has bounced back to beat Singapore 3-0 in the World Team Cup tournament in Dubai.

That victory in October and yesterday’s whitewash now brings China’s win-loss record over Singapore to a staggering 15-1.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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