Team Singapore’s Gao Ning (L) and Li Hu pose after they won bronze medal at Men's Doubles (Photo by Jaewon Lee / Sport Singapore)
Team Singapore’s men’s doubles team of Gao Ning and Li Hu on Friday thoroughly tested the limits of their semifinal opponents, putting up a stern fight against the Chinese men’s doubles pairing of Xu Xin and Fan Zhendong before succumbing 4-1.
While Gao Ning and Li Hu had earlier on Thursday lost in straight sets to the exact same opponents in their respective Men’s Singles matches, the competition was definitely less one-sided on Friday at the Suwon Gymnasium.
The Singaporean duo – who won the Gold medal in the Men’s Doubles competition at this year’s Commonwealth Games - won the first set 13-11, thanks to some clinical finishing, and looked to be in command of the second until they gave the set away 8-11 with a series of unforced errors. The Chinese pairing rallied and fought back in the third set to win 11-5 and were soon in commanding form as they ran away with the rest of the sets 11-8, 11-9.
Team Singapore’s Gao Ning (C) and Li Hu (top R) in action during the Men's Doubles Semifinal Match 1 against China (Photo by Jaewon Lee / Sport Singapore)
Despite the defeat, a place in the semifinal had already guaranteed the Team Singapore side its first ever medal in a men’s table tennis event at the Asian Games. Coach Yang Chuanning was satisfied with his team’s campaign and is now looking forward to next year’s SEA Games.
He said: “I think they did well today. They did match the Chinese team point for point on many occasions. Overall, I think this had been a pretty good campaign and we did win Singapore’s first medal for men’s table tennis at the Asian Games. It’s now time to go back and train even harder to win a Gold medal at next year’s SEA Games.”
Li Hu, who is playing for Singapore in the Asian Games for the first time,: “I think we played well today. The Chinese players are, after all, superior in terms of technique and ability, but I think we gave it our all and put up a good fight. It’s my first time at the Asian Games and it means a lot to have won a medal.”
Compatriot Feng Tianwei will be up against China’s Zhu Yuling in Saturday morning’s semifinals.