Feng after STTA split: I've never thought of quitting
Singapore's top women paddler opens up after split with STTA
Her youthful exuberance and indomitable spirit caught the eye of Singaporean fans during the ascent of the Republic's women's table tennis team in 2008.
With her never-say-die spirit, paddler Feng Tianwei often bounced back from losing positions, as she helped Singapore clinch a team silver at the 2008 Olympics, beat China to win the world team title in 2010, and bag a team bronze and a singles bronze at London 2012.
Since parting ways with the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) last October, Feng has had to rely on that steeliness more than ever.
At yesterday's T2 Asia-Pacific Table Tennis League (T2 Apac) launch in Johor Baru, Feng shared with The New Paper her thoughts on going solo.
Asked if she ever felt like quitting in the aftermath of the split, the 30-year-old said: "Table tennis still plays a very central role in my life, so when I experienced tough times in these few months, I have never thought of quitting or retiring.
"That would have been a simple and direct decision but, to me, it was not the best choice.
"When you meet with a difficult situation, you just look for a solution. You don't quit."
The women's world No. 4 has learnt to manage all aspects of her training and competition as an independent athlete since leaving STTA and acknowledged that it has not been an easy task.
She has to balance her training and competition loads, as well as that of her physical and technical training.
Arranging for sparring partners and training attachments are also part of her responsibilities now.
"It was a steep learning curve, some aspects were smooth and others I had to learn how to get help," Feng said.
"These have been good tests of my ability to collaborate with others."
Feng will compete in the first round of the T2 Apac league in Johor Baru today, before jetting off for the Australia Open next week, ahead of August's South-east Asia (SEA) Games in Kuala Lumpur.
The inaugural T2 Apac competition would be a good platform for Feng to get back on track, after being plagued by illness while competing in the last two weeks.
She exited the Japan Open in the Round of 16 a fortnight ago, and the last eight in the China Open last week.
In Malaysia, Feng may face Thailand's Suthasini Sawettabut, who handed the Singaporean a shock 3-1 loss in the women's singles group stage of the SEA Games in Singapore two years ago.
Suthasini, now 23, then went on to win the gold in the event, denying the Republic a clean sweep in the sport.
Feng added: "Also, there are a lot of good players here, so it's a good opportunity to discuss how we can improve, and spar with one another."
She added that she is looking forward to the SEA Games, and has never wavered in her desire to wear Singapore's colours, despite allegations of bad behaviour leading up to her split with STTA.
"Singapore built me to what I am today, and continues to support me for my international competitions," said the Sports Excellence scholar, who received her Singapore citizenship in 2008.
"Singapore has given me a lot and I still hope to represent Singapore at the international stage. I am very keen to do that and I hope to continue my career."