A young group of rowers aged 25 and under will represent Singapore from today until next Tuesday at the Asian Table Tennis Championships in Doha, Qatar.
To prepare for life after the eventual retirement of the world’s number 10, Feng Tianwei and the 32nd-ranked Yu Mengyu – both in their thirties – the Singapore Table Tennis Association has taken the bold step to recruit younger and inexperienced players. for the women’s team event.
In the quarter-finals of the championship division, where they will play against one of the two best teams of the second tier, the world’s number 61, Lin Ye, will lead the women’s team.
She will coach younger teammates Goi Rui Xuan (192nd), Wong Xin Ru (193rd), Zhang Wan Ling (412th) and 16-year-old Zhou Jingyi.
Although Zhou is ranked 850th, she has shown potential as a youth player when she reached number 5 in the world in the Under-15 girls ranking.
While a drop in standards is expected with a new lineup, their cause has been helped by the withdrawals of defending champions China and North Korea, who finished fifth in 2019.
Singapore, second in the women’s team in 2007, 2009 and 2011, won the bronze in 2003, 2013 and 2019 with the veterans.
National women’s coach Hao Anlin said: “As we enter a new Olympic cycle, we want to give our younger players the opportunity to test and prove themselves on the international stage.
“Our goal is to bring them fame and experience so that we have continuity to stay competitive among the best teams. I want our players to cherish and improve every game they play.”
Prior to the Asian Championships – featuring singles, doubles and team events – the rowers had a taste of action at a WTT Star Contender tournament at the same venue.
An excited Zhou said: “It’s really an eye opener for me because it’s my first time coming to such a big game.
“I have had many table tennis stars (who) have inspired me to train and work even harder to become like them. My coaches and teammates are all very supportive and encouraging of me, so the transition from the youth to the senior scene is went quite smoothly.
“I want to play as well as possible, learn more from the seniors and gain valuable experience.”
Meanwhile, the men’s team is led by former Under-18 world No. 1 and SEA Games men’s singles champion Koen Pang (160th) and Clarence Chew (180th), who in July became the first Singapore-born male paddler to play at the Tokyo Olympics. The other team members are Josh Chua (395th), Beh Kun Ting (420th) and Lucas Tan (682nd).
They play in the second tier in Doha and must top Group 1, made up of Nepal and Palestine, and finish in the top two in the division to advance to the championship division.
Chew, 25 and a veteran of the 2011, 2013 and 2015 Asian Championships said: “I am looking forward to competing in this event again and hope to have the same mindset as how I performed in the Olympics and a good performance put down. .
“I hope to do my part in guiding and supporting the younger players, especially in doubles and team events and, more importantly, helping the team qualify for next year’s World Team Championships.”
For that they will have to finish in the top 10 in Doha. But national team coach Gao Ning has set them the goal of maintaining at least their eighth position from 2019 and wants them to “play without fear of the outcome”.
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