Team Singapore’s women’s table tennis team face a bronze medal clash with Japan on Tuesday at Riocentro, after they were unable to overcome the might of the Chinese team in their semi-final on Monday.
TeamSG paddler Feng Tianwei put up a good fight against Silver medallist Li Xiaoxin from China. Photo: Sport Singapore
China’s trio consisted of this Games’ Gold medal singles winner Ding Ning, Rio Silver medallist Li Xiaoxia, who won gold four years ago and Liu Shiwen, who despite being the world number one, did not make China’s selection for the singles competition.
Given the extraordinary calibre of their opponents, it was not surprising that the odds were against the Singaporean team, bronze medal winners in London 2012 but the girls made a valiant effort to pull off a surprise.
Feng Tianwei was first up — taking on Li and she kept in close touch throughout the contest before eventually succumbing 12-10, 11-8, 11-9.
Then Zhou Yihan, playing in her first Olympics, faced the daunting task of taking on Ding Ning and she took the game off the world number two before losing out 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 2-11.
TeamSG paddlers Zhou Yihan (left) and Yu Mengyu (right) in action in the doubles event. Photo: Sport Singapore
If there was to be a turnaround, it had to come in the doubles game where Yu Mengyu partnered Zhou against Ding and Liu but this was a much more one-sided affair with the Team Singapore duo losing out 11-4, 11-1, 11-9.
Now the team must quickly switch their focus to taking a Japan team which was surprisingly beaten by Germany in their semi-final.
“I didn’t expect Germany to play so well and so fiercely, so we also hope that we can pull something unexpected against the Japanese team,” said Feng, whose team-mate Mengyu believes the Olympic atmosphere can encourage surprises.
"In recent years, from 2012 to now, we have been behind our rivals in terms of competition results. But tomorrow we will play our best with an open mind, it's the Olympics after all, every competitor's state of mind will be different from the norm,” said Mengyu.
TeamSG paddler and debutant Zhou Yihan wowed the crowd with her outstanding performance. Photo: Sport Singapore
Tianwei was encouraged by the display from Yihan, who has looked far from over-awed in her first Games.
“Yihan did very well today, it’s the first time she’s participated in such a big competition like this, so the fact that she’s able to show off her standard and did it pretty well gives us confidence for our team’s bronze match,” she said.
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