Feng and Yu settle for doubles bronze at worlds
National coach Jing happy with women's doubles bronze, says Suzhou outing good for SEA Games
They won the first game against their highly-fancied opponents, and looked set to win the second.
Had Singapore's Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu won the crucial second game against China's Zhu Yuling and Liu Shiwen after leading 7-4 in the World Table Tennis Championships women's doubles semi-finals yesterday, the Singaporean pair would have stood a good chance of making a historic final appearance, against China's Ding Ning and Li Xiaoxia.
But it was not to be, as mistakes by Feng and Yu allowed Zhu and Liu to win that game 11-9 and level the match at 1-1.
The Chinese rode on the momentum and went on to beat the Singaporeans 4-1 (9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 11-4) in Suzhou, China, on the last day of the championships.
Feng and Yu earned a bronze as there was no play-off for third place.
Singapore national women's coach Jing Junhong said: "They performed quite well in the first game, but they made mistakes when they led in the second, which allowed the Chinese to come back.
"Had we won the first two games, we would have a very good chance of making another breakthrough, but the Chinese had the upper hand once it was 1-1."
Feng and Yu won a bronze in 2013, the last time the world championships featured individual events, while Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu also finished third in 2007.
Overall, Jing was happy with the women paddlers' performance at the world championships, and said it bodes well for the team's preparations for the 28th SEA Games here in June.
Jing said: "I would give the women's team 80 marks out of 100.
"Feng and Yu beat the likes of Hong Kong's Jiang Huajun and Tie Yana, as well as South Korea's Park Young Sook and Yang Ha Eun to get to the semi-finals. It wasn't an easy path for them and they performed to their standards.
"The young ones (Isabelle Li, Yee Herng Hwee and Eunice Lim) also gained a lot of experience, which will serve them well at the SEA Games."
The team will return today, starting centralised training here on Wednesday.
Feng, Yu, Li, Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan are likely to form the women's team at the SEA Games table tennis competition, which will take place at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from June 1-8.
Jing said: "Feng and Yu have coped well with their old injuries (knee and waist respectively) in this competition despite playing through pain, but they will probably have to seek treatment while training for the Games.
"But judging from their performances at this competition, we just have to make minor adjustments and polish their game for the SEA Games, and that is a good thing."
PHOTO: COURTESY OF SINGSOC
32: More than 200 Young Team Singapore Ambassadors (YTSAs) gathered at the annual YTSA Induction Camp to play their part in the countdown to the 28th SEA Games.
The YTSAs, made up of students from the different secondary schools in Singapore, are passionate in sports and are united in spreading the values of sports to their fellow Singaporeans.
The Ambassadors also represent the voice of the nation, cheering and rallying the crowd to lend their support for Team Singapore athletes at the SEA Games.
"As YTSAs, we believe that sports can be a means to create a shared national identity and spark a common interest between people. We hope that every Singaporean - athletes, YTSAs and spectators, volunteers - can stand shoulder to shoulder and cheer as One Team Singapore," said Jacelyn Poh, a youth ambassador.
PHOTO: TNP FILE PHOTO
32: Malaysian shuttler Lee Chong Wei, ranked world No. 1 for 199 consecutive weeks from August 2008 to June 2012, should compete at the SEA Games after serving a backdated eight-month suspension for a doping violation.
The 32-year-old (above, in green) should be playing in only the men's team event, trying to help his country regain the gold medal they last won in 2005. That year, Lee also took bronze in the men's singles event. - DAVID LEE