Feng and Yu beaten in quarters
Feng and Yu fall in singles quarter-finals and must regroup for team event
Along with powerhouses China, Singapore paraded two players in the last eight of the women's singles table tennis competition here at the Olympic Games.
But both Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu faltered in their bids to make the semi-finals, suffering surprisingly easy defeats yesterday.
Feng fell 4-0 to Japan's impish and eager Ai Fukuhara, while Yu followed her countrywoman on court and lost 4-2 to North Korea's Kim Song I.
Feng is Singapore's most successful Olympian with three medals, but her dream of a second successive spot in the singles semi-finals came to a crushing end, as Fukuhara's speed, precision and surging confidence left the 29-year-old with no answers.
The quarter-final clash ended tamely 14-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5 in the Japanese's favour, and it was not supposed to, with the Singapore star, ranked world No. 4 and seeded second here, holding a 14-3 record against her 27-year-old opponent, four rungs below her in the current best list.
Said a clearly pained Feng, after just 36 minutes of play at the Riocentro Pavilion 3: "The last time I played her was in June and I beat her 4-1. But I must admit she was on fire today.
"And I couldn't adapt fast enough on court."
Yu, 26, put up a better fight, but was also left thinking of what might have been, after going down 4-2 (11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6).
She was distraught and in tears after her match, asking for time to collect herself, before saying: "This was a real pity.
"This was my first Olympics and there was a chance, after coming so far and reaching this stage.
"But my opponent was too good."
Yu, ranked world No. 13, faced a 21-year-old opponent of unknown quantity. And the North Korean displayed patience with a defensive, chopping strategy that worked a treat.
"I had hoped to win a medal for Singapore for National Day, but it's not to be," said Yu.
"But I'll adjust my emotions and fight in every match in the team event."
It will also be what Feng has to do now.
She has never returned from an Olympic Games without a medal.
She was an inspiring youngster in 2008, fearless as the Singapore women's team won silver in Beijing.
She was also part of the team that collected bronze in London four years ago, when Feng also finished third in the singles event.
I asked her how she had changed from eight years ago when her Olympic adventure started.
"I have learnt to enjoy the Olympic Games now, even though this result is not what I had hoped for," she said.
She will need to pick herself up, and the team, because after a poor performance by the men in the singles event, and the quarter-final exits by the two women yesterday, an Olympic medal from the Singapore table tennis team hangs by a thread.
She said: "We still have a chance of a medal in the team event.
"We will fight for it."
Singaporeans in action
- Joseph Schooling (men's 100m freestyle semi-finals) - From 9.03am.
- Saiyidah Aisyah (women's single sculls C & D semi-finals) - From 10.30pm.
- Justin Liu and Denise Lim (mixed Nacra 17 Races 1, 2 and 3) - From 12.05am.
- Colin Cheng (men's Laser Races 5 and 6) - From 12.05am.
- Jovina Choo and Amanda Ng (women's 470 Races 1 and 2) - From 12.15am.
- Elizabeth Yin (women's Laser radial Races 5 and 6) - From 12.15am.
- Jasmine Ser (women's 50m rifle 3 positions) - From 8pm.