The Women’s Doubles Finals match where Singapore's Feng Tianwei (right most) showing clear signs that she has yet to recover from her knee injury. Photo credit: SINGSOC
Singapore took home the first gold medals on offer at the 28th SEA Games when both women's and men's doubles teams on in Table Tennis.
Singapore’s women teams were up against Thailand and Malaysia in the Women's Doubles semi-finals. The Malaysian team comprising Ho Ying and Lee Rou You had previously competed against Singapore at the 2014 Commonwealth Games team event. Despite putting up a strong showing, they were defeated by Singapore pair Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu 4-0.
The other Singapore Women’s Doubles team comprising Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan faced Thai duo Komwong Nanthana and Sawettabut Suthasini. Komwong was the first female Thai player who competed at the World Cup, and together with Sawettabut, they raced off to a good start leading 2-0. With the home crowd supporting and cheering them on, Lin and Zhou fought back in the last two games, eventually winning the match.
Thailand’s Chanakarn Udomsilp (centre) returning a shot to Singapore’s Gao Ning in the Men’s Double’s final. Photo credit: SINGSOC
In the Men’s Doubles semi-finals, the more experienced Singaporean duo - Gao Ning and Li Hu - defeated Vietnamese pair Tran Tuan Quynh and Nguyen Anh Tu 4-0. The match between Singapore’s Chen Feng and Clarence Chew and Thailand’s Tanviriyavechakul Padasak and Udomsilp Chanakarn saw a nail biting finish. Despite the tough fight put up by Chen and Chew, it was the Thai duo which pushed through, eventually winning the match 4-3 (11-7, 11-8, 5-11, 3-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4).
In the Men’s Singles Group C Match, top seed Gao Ning overcame Myanmar’s Tun Myo Min with a score of 3-0. Though the Women’s Doubles event saw an all Singapore final in which a Gold medal was assured, it was still an exciting match-up for the audience with a close fight between reigning champion duo Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu versus underdogs Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan. With Feng and Yu still recovering from knee and back injuries since the last Asian Games, Lin and Zhou capitalized on this to prevail against the more experienced duo in a stunning upset 4-3 (7-11, 11-5, 11-8, 12-10, 3-11, 10-12, 11-7).
Thai fans cheering on their team at the Singapore Indoor Stadium Table Tennis Men's Doubles Final. Photo credit: SINGSOC
In the Men’s Doubles event, Thai duo Padasak Tanviriyavechakul and Chanakarn Udomsilp were no pushovers for Singaporean duo Gao Ning and Li Hu. The Thai duo, buoyed by the wholehearted cheers from their supporters, put up a valiant fight in three closely contested sets before succumbing finally to the Singaporean duo in the fourth set (11-8, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4).
In the other games, veteran player Richard Gonzales from Philippines and Indonesia’s Ficky Santoso shared the spotlight as the last Men’s Singles match to conclude today. It was an intense match where both former SEA Games bronze medalists trailed each other by a hair-width. Gonzales at 44 years old, showed visible signs of fatigue playing 5 sets against the much younger and faster 24 year old Santoso. Not to be outdone, the more experienced Gonzales managed to prevail over his opponent’s physical prowess, winning 3-2 overall.
Spectator Spotlight Mr Goh Han Serm, Head of Dept for Physical Education, Yuhua Primary School, cheering alongside his students for Singapore's athletes. Photo credit: SINGSOC
Cheering on Singapore's athletes today were a contingent of 108 students from Yuhua Primary School led by their Head of Department of Physical Education, 58 year old Mr Goh Han Serm. Explaining his school’s decision to bring the children down for to watch the game, he said, “(It was to) promote pride in and love for Singapore as part of citizenship education (and that it was) more than just sports”.
He added that it was a rare once in a lifetime opportunity for the children to support the national team in an international event. Witnessing Singapore clinching gold medals was a bonus. Furthermore the SEA Games 2015 was an important part of the SG50 celebrations. The students would also be coming down later this week to watch more table tennis, athletics and netball matches too.
Yuhua Primary School also invited the SEA Games Mascot Nila down to their school as part of promotional activities for the Games, where every student received a class photo with Nila. An avid supporter of the SEA Games himself, Mr Goh is also part of Team Nila, where he is volunteering as a Venue Protocol Officer at the National Stadium. Spectators going for the 20km this Saturday or the Marathon this Sunday could catch him at the helping stadium. He is also watching the Opening Ceremony this Friday evening. Selfless volunteers raise the SEA Games spirit up high!
The table tennis competition continues tomorrow with the mixed doubles and singles matches in the next two days. In the mixed doubles, Yu, Zhou, Li and Yang Zi will be representing Singapore. For the Singles matches, Gao, Chew, Feng and Isabelle Li are looking to place Singapore in the podium. Coach Yang Chuanning has prided Chew as the #2 in the team behind Gao, expressing his hope for his young charge to get a silver in this games.
This article was produced by Tracy Seow, Randi Ang, Hoh Chu Hui, and Pattarin Kusolpalin, volunteer content producers with Team Nila. For more content produced by Team Nila, please head to the 28th SEA Games Social Wall.