Singapore headed to the 2015 SEA Games as the overwhelming favourites for a gold medal sweep from the table tennis events, as they did two years ago in Myanmar. However, this time, the stakes were higher – not only are there seven championships for the taking as compared to four previously, but the competition is currently held right here in Singapore. It was expected of Singapore to capitalise on their homeground advantage, so who could have foreseen when underdog Suthasini Sawettabut of Thailand defeated local favourite Feng Tianwei with a convincing 3-1 win in the Women’s Singles round robin stage? Sawettabut would then go on to clinch the title, by beating Malaysia’s Ng Sock Khim in the final.
The last day of the competition presented two gold medals up for grabs from the team events. Both matches turned out to be thrilling contests, with all four teams battling it out point by point in every set; almost every match required more than three sets to determine a winner. For the audience, the competing players’ skills, effort and emotions culminated in an exciting display tonight.
Last day of Table Tennis matches! Seats of the different gates are filled with supporters in the Singapore Indoor Stadium, for the finals. Photo: Loy Kheng Wee/SINGSOC
Women’s Team Final: Singapore vs. Thailand
In the first matchup, Yu Mengyu fell 3-1 to Komwong Nanthana in a shock defeat which left the home supporters at the Singapore Indoor Stadium (SIS) reeling. Feng Tianwei, looking to take her first gold medal from the table tennis events, came up tops in a closely fought match against Tamolwan Khetkhuan. The third match saw 20-year-old Isabelle Li defending hard with her long returns against 18-year-old Paranang Orawan’s smashes, but lost narrowly after five back-to-back games. With an overall 2-1 in Thailand’s favour, the turn of events came when Singapore’s Feng and Yu stepped up again for the remaining two sets against Thailand’s Komwong and Khetkhuan, respectively. The atmosphere in the SIS reached a crescendo as Khetkhuan and Yu displayed their prowess by firing shots at a variety of angles. After a staggering total match time of 3 hours and 1 minute, Yu finally sealed Singapore’s gold medal victory over Thailand by clinching the fifth and last set 15-13.
Yu Mengyu exhausted playing her second game to break the deadlock against Thailand. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
The Thai Women’s Team may have lost to the host but their performance was superb. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
Men’s Team Final: Singapore vs. Vietnam
The contest started off with Vietnam’s Tran Tuan Quynh snatching the first set from Li Hu 3-1. In the second set, Singapore’s veteran paddler Gao Ning attained three consecutive games against Nguyen Anh Tu, despite committing several unforced errors initially, levelling the score 1-1. Following the streak, up-and-coming 19-year-old Clarence Chew took Dinh Quang Linh down in the third set, tilting the match in Singapore’s favour.
Clarence Chew earning a point for the men’s events. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
Vietnam’s Tran was fielded again for the next set, who seized the third game against Gao despite suffering from ankle-related injuries. However, Gao kept his cool under pressure and reeled off a series of winners to take the fourth game, thus ending the 2.5-hour marathon and handing Singapore the last gold of the table tennis events.
Tran pushed to the edge but still fighting back strong. Photo: Randi Ang/SINGSOC
Even though the last point was played only at 11.50pm, for the Singapore fans who stayed throughout for both finals, it was a day to rejoice as they witnessed their table tennis heroes collecting their well-deserved gold medals on the winners’ podium.