Chen is new women's coach in table tennis reshuffle
Coaching shake-up in Singapore table tennis ahead of Rio Olympics
With less than six months to the start of the table tennis competition at the Rio Olympics, the Singapore team have witnessed more coaching changes.
Yesterday, the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) announced the appointment of former men's world No. 5 Chen Zhibin as the new national women's team coach.
Chen, the former Holland women's coach, will be assisted by Hao Anlin.
"It is a privilege to have been selected by the STTA and the Singapore Sports Institute to lead the women's team at the Rio Olympics," said Chen.
"The Olympics are only six months away and my immediate task is to raise the level of play and the world ranking of the players. The players and I will do our best to bring greater sporting glory to Singapore."
The 54-year-old German-Chinese has a formidable task on his hands, as the Singapore women have delivered one silver (2008 Beijing Games) and two bronze medals (2012 London Games).
Chen, who won the 1990 Asian Games men's doubles gold with Ma Wenge and has 11 years of coaching experience, takes over from Liu Jiayi.
Liu, 65, had been in charge of the women's team since last November after his predecessor Jing Junhong was reassigned to coach the youth set-up following a clash with Singapore women's No. 2 Yu Mengyu at last year's Polish Open. Liu will now take over the men's national team.
The STTA revealed that Chen's appointment comes after a request by the national women's team.
Singapore's top female paddler and world No. 8 Feng Tianwei said: "Coach Chen has the coaching experience to take my playing career to the next level of success.
"Coach Chen and I also aim to achieve medals at the Rio Olympics."
After a spate of retirements, Singapore's paddlers seem to have gone off the boil since the coaching shake-up .
STTA president Ellen Lee urged the paddlers to repay the faith and investment by giving of their best during this Olympic qualification period.
She said: "We had to make some coaching changes in the run-up to the Rio Olympics. Along with our many stakeholders, STTA has already invested so much in our teams and we would like our players to do their best to improve their Olympics chances.
"We urge Singaporeans who have put their belief and trust in us to continue to support us.
"Right now, the teams need to focus on training harder than before towards the Rio Olympics.
"Now that the issue of coaching support has been firmly resolved, the national players should continue with their high-level training and execute the competition calendar as scheduled."
Meanwhile, Liu said he has no problems taking on a new portfolio three months after his previous appointment.
"I am looking forward to my new appointment. What I want to do is improve after every single practice, every single day, every single week for the men's team right up to Rio. We want to play our best for Singapore at the Rio Games in August," said Liu, who will be assisted by Wang Xiang and Zhu Jiang.
Singapore's top male paddler and world No. 21 Gao Ning added: "Coach Liu has a positive attitude and mindset and I am sure that he will have a lot to offer to the men's team. I look forward to working closely with him."