Tag Archives: Zena Sim

The New Paper takes STTA to task for not using Zena Sim in SEA Games table tennis team final

This report came out in The New Paper last Friday, and frankly, it came across as a breath of fresh air.

I enjoyed it because it dared to say something that the other papers seem to have either failed to notice, or are not daring to raise for fear of goodness knows what.

The question that The New Paper asked was very pointed: 

In our quest for SEA Games glory. have we forgotten the need to use the Games as the platform to build and develop our local talent?

Indeed, is all this talk about local talent development  by the new regime at the Singapore  Table Tennis Association nothing but lip service?

After all, at the end of the day, the message it seems to be sending budding local talents like Zena Sim and Isabelle Li is this: “You’re good enough to play for us during the preliminary, non-crucial matches but we will stick to the foreign talents when it comes to the crunch. We don’t want to take any unneccessary risks”.

Food for thought.


Local talent needs exposure  (The New Paper, 11 Dec 2009)

By Ernest Luis

TO WHAT extent do you sacrifice local talent in order to get gold, and win for Singapore?

To start this debate, it’s worth noting that Singapore’s South-east Asia Games women’s table tennis team that won gold yesterday is actually second in the world rankings behind China.

So when is the best time to field a rising star like 19-year-old Zena Sim, the only homegrown player in the women’s team?

Firstly, the SEA Games gold medal that Singapore’s women’s team won yesterday was not its first in this regional event.

So the desperation factor was not as great.

Was this the pinnacle – the Olympics – at stake? No.

Was this the Asian Games? No.

Was this even the Commonwealth Games? No.

This was the SEA Games.

It was an event in which even Singapore’s opponents had surrendered before the semi-finals were played yesterday morning.

Malaysia said they would lose.

They lost 0-3.

Thailand – whom Singapore’s women met in the final yesterday afternoon – said way back on Tuesday it would be easier to walk back to Bangkok, than to win the gold.

They lost too, 0-3.

If the opponents were so weak in the mind, and our women’s team were so strong and confident, why the seeming ‘kiasu’ attitude of trying to seal the gold medal as early as possible?

Imagine an in-form Zena cushioned alongside Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu against the Thais in the final. Couldn’t Singapore take a little risk for some valuable exposure?

Even if Zena were to lose her game, wasn’t there still enough strength in depth from Feng and Wang to overcome any deficit in a best-of-five series?

Singapore would still have won the gold, unless they are mentally so fragile when they lose a game.

As it is, the Thais were all the stronger in terms of exposure even though they lost.

But in the Singapore team’s eagerness to seal yet another SEA Games gold medal in women’s table tennis, did they let slip a chance to expose homegrown Zena to this level of competition when they had a great chance in a final?

What is the message from the Singapore Table Tennis Association to other homegrown players when the journey got closer to a gold medal?

Was the eagerness worth the ‘sacrifice’?


Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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STTA takes another step forward in developing local talent

The report:

This report came out on Channel News Asia yesterday:

Li Jiawei may not be featured in 2009 SEA Games (Channel News Asia, 24 Feb 2009)


By Patwant Singh


SINGAPORE: They delivered an Olympic silver medal last year, but Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu may miss the upcoming SEA Games in Laos in December.


Since 1999, Li Jiawei has been a permanent fixture at the SEA Games, delivering many gold medals for Singapore.


But this year in Laos, she and team-mate Wang Yuegu may not be part of the five-member women’s team.


The Singapore Table Tennis Association said it is looking at a combination of local and foreign talents to lead the charge.


Among them are 19-year-old Zena Sim, 15-year-old Isabelle Li and 16-year-old Pang Xuejie, all students from the Singapore Sports School.


President of the Singapore Table Tennis Association, Lee Bee Wah, said: “Definitely Zena and Xuejie will be in. We are also looking at the possibility of fielding Isabelle. It will depend on whether they are ready or not.”


Member of the National Youth Team, Isabelle Li, said: “My personal aim is to close the gap between the local talents and foreign athletes… We are given a lot of support from the association, (and) sports school.”


But the association is not taking the SEA Games lightly.


Manager for high performance at the Singapore Table Tennis Association, Eddy Tay, said: “We are not compromising, so that’s why we are still keeping our three top senior players in the SEA Games squad.”


The women’s team will still have Feng Tianwei, who will be playing in her first SEA Games. She is ranked sixth in the world, while Li Jiawei is ranked seventh.


Other possible members are Yu Mengyu and Sun Beibei.


Feng said: “SEA Games is very important to us. If the senior players are not going, I will have to take up the leadership and lead the younger players at this SEA Games. Of course there is additional pressure, but I will try my best.”


Singapore won a record seven gold medals at the last SEA Games in Korat, Thailand. Whether the new team, to be selected by September, will be able to match that performance is still left to be seen.


The Singapore Table Tennis Association has given the assurance that it will give local born players more playing time at the SEA Games.


– CNA/yt

My thoughts:

Bravo, Singapore Table Tennis Association, and kudos to all of you for living up to your promises of trying to develop more local talent for the national men and women’s teams.

I am sure that the likes of Zena Sim and Isabelle Li will benefit greatly from being part of the five-women team to Laos. Now my only hope is that the two teenagers will not only get a lot more playing time during the SEA Games, but will also get to feature in the more crucial ties.

In previous years, because of the previous STTA’s single-minded pursuit of sporting glory to the exclusion of everything else, local talent would only get token representation in the national teams.

The STTA would select teens like Jason Ho, Pang Xue Jie, Jenn Lim Pei Qi and Zena for the SEA or Commonwealth Games so as to create the pathetic illusion that local players are indeed being included in the national teams.

They would play in the easier group matches before being made to sit out the rest of the  competition when their teams advanced to the quarter and semi-finals and then the finals. 

This time, the STTA has promised to give the local players more playing time at the SEA Games.

I do hope that this promise translates into them being given the chance to compete in the more crucial stages so that they know what it is like to play under intense pressure.

And I would really take my hat off to the STTA if either Isabelle or Zena is selected to play in the team final, if Singapore does make it that far.

It’s probably unlikely though.

After all, a team gold at the SEA Games is worth $20,000 under the Singapore National Olympic Council’s Multi-million dollar Award Programme (MAP).

As such, the STTA would probably want to field their strongest side to ensure that the $20,000 is as good as won, for the sake of all the members and coaches of the team.

My hope is that the STTA will be enlightened enough to field Zena or Isabelle in the final, especially  if they think that that either one of them is good enough to deliver one of the winning points for the team.

For that will truly be a new psychological breakthrough not just for the STTA but more importantly, for the many young talented local paddlers back home who dream of becoming national players one day.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

Related links:

31 Oct 2008 – Winds of change starting to blow through the STTA halls

29 Aug 2008 – Singapore table tennis: Time for new STTA regime to decide what are its values

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Newsflash: Singapore junior paddlers win five golds at SEA C’ships

Singapore’s junior paddlers plundered five golds, two silvers and a bronze at the 14th Milo South-east Asian Junior Championships in Kuala Lumpur, last week, to underline their status as the region’s kingpins in the sport at youth level.

Sylvia Look was the Republic’s biggest individual winner in the annual eight-nation competition with three golds.

The 15-year-old student captured the Girls’ Team title along with Zena Sim, Isabelle Li Sandra Goh, Kwa Hui Qi and Lu Chun Qi, ahead of Thailand and Malaysia.

She also defeated Isabelle Li 4-2 in an all-Singapore Girls U-15 singles final to take the individual crowd. Sylvia completed her hat-trick of golds when she and Isabelle defeated their Malaysian opponents, Liew Yong Xuan and Lim Ann Er, 3-1 in the Girls U-15 Doubles final.

Former Asian U-15 singles champion and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Zena Sim also had a good individual outing in Kuala Lumpur.  

The 18-year-old Singapore Sports School graduate, who is now pursuing a diploma in sports science and exercise management at the Auckland University of Technology, defeated compatriot Hui Qi 4-0 to take the Girls U-18 singles crown.

However, the duo could not add the Girls U-18 Doubles title to their collection as they went down 1-3 to Malaysia’s Ting Hie Phin and Gam Giak Ping. 

Interestingly, Zena’s results were the exact opposite of her fortunes at last year’s Championships in Laos. Back then, she had finished second in the Girls U-18 singles and took the gold in the Girls U-18 Doubles.

Singapore Sports School student Pang Xue Jie also experienced the same reversal of fortunes.

The 15-year-old student, who was part of the national men’s team that won the team title at last year’s SEA Games, whipped his Vietnamese opponent, Le Tien Duct, 4-1 to take the Boys U-15 singles title (he finished second in the same event last year).

But Xue Jie lost the Boys’ U-15 Doubles gold which he won last year. This time, he and team-mate Darren Chong fought valiantly but were edged out 2-3 by Le Tien Dat and Nguyen Ngo Tu of Vietnam in the final.

Singapore won its sole bronze in the Boys Team event. The Boys team was made up of Xue Jie, Goh Yi Long, Darren, Lim Jie Yan, Benjamin Teo and Bob Teo. Vietname won the gold followed by Indonesia.

Zena and her team-mates, Xue Jie and Darren, will now represent South-east Asia at the Junior Asia Championships which will be held in Singapore from 23-27 July. 

My thoughts:

Just thought I’d let you know: this report was painstakingly compiled from a number of disparate sources after a search through the Singapore Table Tennis Association’s website and www.sttnews.blogspot.com, which claims to be a non-official site of the STTA, yielded nothing.

That, in itself, was very disappointing, considering the fact that these are Singapore’s most promising local juniors, that they were flying the Republic’s flag in a regional competition, and finally, that they vying for the honour of representing South-east Asia at the Junior Asia Championships in July.

When you are a  young, aspiring athlete, one of the things you look forward to is seeing some mention of your achievements in the newspapers. I firmly believe that youth athletes should be given due recognition and publicity for their achievements because this will help to spur and motivate them to work harder and to stay in the sport.

This also explains why for a few days, I kept seeing “south-east asian junior table tennis championships” and variations of it appearing as search terms on my blog. Clearly, there were youths and die-hard local table-tennis fans looking for information and results from this event.

When I couldn’t find anything myself on the net, it prompted me to go to a range of sources to piece together the results in order to come up with this newsflash.

When the national governing body for that sport isn’t even proactive in disemminating information about their local juniors’ achievements on the international stage, the silence is simply damning.

Compare that to the way the Singapore Sailing Federation constantly updates its website and alerts the media to the latest competition results, and the gulf in standards just stands out.  

The Singapore Sports Fan congratulates all our junior paddlers for a great job in Kuala Lumpur.

My heartiest congratulations to those paddlers too who have made the cut to represent South-east Asia at the Junior Asia Championships. Here’s wishing them a successful competition ahead.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

P.S: This is a personal invite to all local junior paddlers and table tennis fans out there. If you would like your achievements or results at any major international competitions to be reported on this blog, do email me at sporesportsfan@yahoo.com.sg. Send me as many details as you can ie how many medals Singapore won, who won what, by what score etc, and I will do my best to create a report out of it for this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.

Related link:

26 June: Singapore Boleh, Local Talent Boleh!

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