Team Singapore’s women paddlers will have a shot at an Olympic medal after battling through a gruelling 3 hours and 17 minutes to beat South Korea 3-2 in their quarterfinal on Saturday.
Singapore's women table tennis team all smiles after booking a place in the semi-finals. Photo: Sport Singapore
The trio of Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan will face gold medal favourites China in Monday’s semi-final and even if they are unable to upset the defending champions then they will still have a chance to defend their bronze medal from four years ago.
It was a deserved win but Team Singapore were certainly made to work for their victory at the Riocentro Pavilion Three in an enthralling contest that went close to the wire.
Tianwei got Team Singapore off to a great start with a 3-0 win over Suh Hyo Won but 11th ranked Jeon Ji Hee brought the contest on to level terms defeating Mengyu 3-1 in the next tie.Mengyu then partnered Zhou Yihan in the doubles match but in a pulsating 40-minute encounter, the Singapore pair lost out 7-11, 4-11, 11-4, 12-10, 7-11 to Jeon and team-mate Yang Ha Eun.
But then came the turning point as world number 32 Zhou stunned Suh Hyo Won, ranked 14 spots higher, with a 3-0 performance to level things up at 2-2.
TeamSG paddler Feng Tianwei delivered the crucial win in the deciding tie. Photo: Sport Singapore
Facing world No. 26 Yang Ha Eun in the deciding tie, Tianwei delivered a cool and clinical performance to win 11-3, 9-11, 16-14, 11-4 and keep Team Singapore’s medal dream alive.
“The fourth round was key but the team did a great job,” said Yihan, “We knew that the Koreans would be hard competitors but we were prepared for that,” she added.
“Now we will try our best against China,” she said.
The contest ran from 10am until 1.17pm and Tianwei joked that she was ready for some lunch.
“I am really happy and very excited but I am also very hungry,” she said with a smile.
“Against China, we want to bring our A-game and to enjoy the Olympics as much as we can.”
Feng also revealed that the paddlers, along with other members of Team Singapore, had spent Friday night watching Joseph Schooling secure the Republic’s first-ever Olympic gold medal in the 100m butterfly.
“We all watched the race and we were all really inspired, it gave us the motivation for this win,” she said.
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