Chen's nervous, short Olympic debut
Paddler's Olympic debut ends in 40 minutes as he falls to Finn Olah
It could be the nerves, it could be the unfamiliarity against the European opponent he had never played against before, or it could be that his opponent was just too good.
Singapore paddler Chen Feng's Olympic debut lasted just 40 minutes after he lost 4-1 (11-4, 11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6) to Finland's Benedek Olah at the RioCentro Pavilion 3 in the first round of the men's singles competition yesterday morning (Singapore time).
The 22-year-old Singaporean lost five straight points in the opening game and never fully recovered from that poor start as the 1.93m-tall Finnish giant made full use of his 15cm height advantage and wide arm span to spray wicked backhands across the table.
After losing the first game 11-4, world No. 117 Chen led 4-2 in the second game but, just as he did throughout the match, world No. 70 Olah was able to string a series of winners to go 8-4 up before winning 11-8.
There was a glimmer of hope as Chen showed more control to win 11-7 in the third game, before surging to a 9-5 lead in the fourth, despite officials suspending play briefly because his socks were displaying unofficial branding which had to be taped over.
But it was not to be for the Singaporean, as Olah won six straight points to foil the comeback before seeing out the match comfortably.
Post-match, Chen said: "I was too nervous.
"Everything felt totally different from what it was like in practice and I couldn't put anything that I had done during practice into good use.
"My nerves affected my technique and ability to react quickly."
Singapore's No. 1 male paddler Gao Ning started his third Olympic outing in the second round early this morning against Great Britain's Paul Drinkhall, while women's ninth seed Yu Mengyu also began her maiden campaign in the women's singles event from the third round against Australia's Lay Jian Fang.