SEA GAMES 2019: Comeback heroics as paddlers deliver double gold
11 December 2019
She tried her best to fight on but wracked with fever and suffering the recurrence of a chronic wrist injury, Singapore’s table-tennis stalwart Feng Tianwei was forced to concede her gold medal match to compatriot Lin Ye, on a day when the Republic took both the men’s and women’s singles title at the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
Feng Tianwei fought on valiantly despite illness (Photo credit: SportSG)
Spectators at the Subic Bay Exhibition & Convention Center were treated to heroics from Feng earlier on Tuesday (10 Dec) when the world number 9 fought back from three games down to defeat Thailand’s Nanthana Komwong 4-3.
Feng has been suffering from the flu for several days but simply would not give up against her Thai opponent ranked 150 in the world. Lin, meanwhile, posted a stirring 4-2 semi-final win over Thai ace Suthasini Sawettabut, the 2015 champion.
Despite taking the opening game 11-6, Feng couldn’t bring herself to continue playing, ceding the gold medal to Lin.
Apart from congratulating her team-mate Lin, Feng added: “It hasn’t been great playing while under the weather. I did my best to get into the final to ensure an all-Singapore affair but simply couldn’t carry on. I shall hope to bounce back soon.
Koen Pang takes on compatriot Clarence Chew in the men’s singles final (Photo credit: SportSG)
Commented Lin on winning the gold medal: “This is my first time playing the individual competition at the SEA Games. I feel lucky to have won though this is not quite how I would have liked it. This is a start for me, I’m looking to do even better in future competitions.”
The men’s singles gold went to 17-year-old Koen Pang who earned his place in the final with a hard-fought 4-3 victory over Thailand's Padasak Tanviriyavechakul. Pang, who is the junior world number one, also had to fight back from 3-0 down to defeat his Thai opponent, earning a meeting with team-mate Clarence Chew who brushed aside Richard Gonzales from the Philippines 4-1 in the semis.
And it was Pang who got the better of Chew, capping off a wonderful SEA Games debut when he also took silver in the men’s doubles event partnering Josh Chua.
Said Pang of the 4-0 win over Chew: “I’m overjoyed to have won this gold medal, this has met the target I’d set for myself before the Games.
Koen Pang, world junior number one and now SEA Games champion (Photo credit: SportSG)
“I’ve not beaten Clarence much this year but I played freely during the final. Our games are usually a lot closer, perhaps he was feeling the pressure. I give myself 8 out of 10 for this tournament.”
Clarence, meanwhile, took defeat in his stride.
“We’re usually evenly matched. I couldn’t quite find my groove and didn’t quite perform to my abilities. There wasn’t too much pressure playing a team-mate but he’s in good form and he played better,” he said.
There is no doubt the table-tennis team bear tremendous pressure on their shoulders at every edition of the Southeast Asian Games where they are expected to dominate. But as recent editions have shown, other nations continue to rise to the challenge.
Two Singapore-born athletes contested the men’s singles final (Photo credit: SportSG)
This edition of the SEA Games in the Philippines featured the smallest competition in recent memory, where only four gold medals were contested – the men’s and women’s singles and doubles.
Singapore medal heroes (L-R) Clarence Chew, Koen Pang, Lin Ye, Feng Tianwei (Photo credit: SportSG)
Singapore’s final medal tally from this sport is a creditable 2 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze medals, with the women’s doubles pairings both managing to get to the semi-finals but no further.