The fourth day of the table tennis competitions saw a huge upset served to Singapore’s hopes for a gold medal sweep. Female paddlers Isabelle Li and Feng Tianwei were outperformed by Nguyen Thi Nga and Suthasini Sawettabut, respectively, dashing Singapore’s hopes for a medal in the Women’s Singles Event.
Thailand’s Sawettabut expresses her thoughts in Thai at the Mixed Zone. Photo: Loy Kheng Wee/SINGSOC
Singapore’s favourite Feng Tianwei clinched the first set against Sawettabut, but faced massive difficulties in the next three games. Ranked No. 107 in the world, the younger Thai went against all odds and fought her way to the semifinals. Feng, ranked No. 4, said that this was her first time competing with Sawettabut. Although she was slightly surprised by the turn of events, Feng acknowledged that Sawettabut performed well today. She commented that she was not in her best state and her knee injury could have hindered her performance.
Singapore’s Feng Tianwei speaks to the media about her loss against Thailand’s Sawettabut. Photo: Loy Kheng Wee/SINGSOC
On the other hand, Singapore’s top male paddlers Gao Ning and Clarence Chew stormed into semifinals after coming out tops in their respective Men’s Singles groups. Gao, who won four round robin matches, faced off Thailand’s Padasak Tanviriyavechakul, while Chew, who secured three matches, was up against Philippines veteran Richard Gonzales.
A black-faced Gao Ning after Padasak broke his perfect 3-0 streak, in this hard fought Men's Singles Semi Finals game. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
In the semi-finals, the host paddlers faced off against tough opposition from the visiting athletes. Thai player Padasak ended Gao’s winning every set he had played so far with a 11-9 set win. Eventually Gao emerged victorious 4-2 and moved on to the finals. On the other side of the court, Singapore’s Chew struggled against veteran player Gonzales in a tightly contested match. Despite having an early 3-1 lead against Gonzales, Clarence ran out of steam, with Gonzales fighting for a comeback and won 4-3.
Feeling stressed as Singapore's Clarence Chew prepares for his next service in a bid to break the deadlock between Philippines’ Richard Gonzales for the final set. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
In the Men’ Singles Event, it was a showdown between two veterans: Singapore’s Gao Ning and Philippines’ Richard Gonzales. With aged wine, 44 year old Gonzales has improved over the years, clinching his first silver medal since the 2005 SEA Games in Manila. Gonzales put up a strong fight against Gao but finally conceded defeat, taking home the silver.