Feng denies any financial wrongdoing
No longer part of STTA's plans, 30-year-old vows she'll still try to qualify for Tokyo 2020
Vowing to extend her Olympic career, Singapore's top female paddler Feng Tianwei has finally broken her silence after the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) made the stunning announcement that she had been dropped from the national fold.
World No. 6 Feng revealed her plan to qualify for the next Olympics in Tokyo in 2020, which by then she would be 34.
"Although I'm not in the STTA team, I will remain in Singapore. I am still a Sports Excellence scholar, and I'm in the midst of discussing how I can continue competing," said Feng, in an e-mail written in Mandarin which was sent to local media last night.
She was part of the Singapore women's team that finished second at the Beijing Games in 2008 and third at London 2012, where she also won a bronze in the women's singles.
The women's team, including the 30-year-old, who was seeded second, failed to win a medal at the 2016 Games in Rio in August.
"The STTA has already said it will support me for international competition, so I will not slacken in the demands I have on myself, and continue representing Singapore," said Feng.
"Although it's regrettable that we narrowly failed to clinch a medal at the recently-concluded Olympics, I realised through the competition that I still have a lot of room for improvement.
"I will be actively building my own support team of coaches, sparring partners and fitness trainers while devising a new way to participate in international matches, which will hopefully bring more room for development...
"I hope and look forward to a fair, open and just contest to participate in the major tournaments, and I hope to play at Tokyo 2020, to help Singapore win more Olympic medals at my fourth Games."
She will no longer enjoy the support of the STTA high performance programme but can still fight to qualify for the Olympics.
Feng also dismissed talk that she had made false monetary claims during her tenure with the STTA, which began in 2007.
"Over the past few days, there have been inaccurate reports which attacked my character and caused very bad reactions," she said.
"I am shocked by these discussions. While I was contracted to the STTA, I have never cheated them of any money and I have not broken the law.
"I have consulted a lawyer regarding these untrue accusations and hope that there will not be such reports in the future."
It is understood that Feng will still be able to compete on the ITTF Pro Tour at her own cost, subject to STTA's endorsement and her agreement to the association's terms and conditions. She may also play in a foreign league.
Feng, who moved here from China under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme in 2007 and received citizenship the following year, anchored the Singapore team to a momentous triumph over mighty China in the final of the 2010 World Team Table Tennis Championships.
She led the women's team in Rio, but they failed to win a medal for the first time after tasting success at the last two Games.
Feng thanked her fans, and added: "This table tennis career is what I have worked hard for so many years, so I will not give up easily.
"I will continue to play, continue to represent Singapore and continue to battle in international competition."
"He has already realised his mistake. We have to be careful with what we post on social media."
— STTA president Ellen Lee on deputy president David Sim’s Facebook comments
STTA: Official spoke in his personal capacity
PHOTO: ST FILE
David Sim, a deputy president at the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), hit out at top star Feng Tianwei in a Facebook post yesterday.
Responding to queries, the STTA said Sim's comments were his personal views and did not represent the national sports association.
Feng, 30, the women's world No. 6 and a three-time Olympic medallist, was dropped from the national team by the STTA as the national sports association announced a rejuvenation process for the future, with an emphasis on younger players.
Sim angrily labelled Feng a "bad egg" and described her as "ill disciplined and disrespectful".
He has since removed his posts and, when asked by The New Paper yesterday if he had made those comments based on knowledge he was privy to because of his position in the STTA, he declined comment, only saying he hopes that whatever decision the association has made will be good for the sport.
Responding to queries from The New Paper, the STTA said: "The recent Facebook comments made by Mr David Sim, deputy president of STTA, are his personal views and he is not speaking on behalf of STTA."
With regard to the talk of false monetary claims, made by Feng the STTA replied: "Regarding the recent media reports, Feng Tianwei was cautioned about the proper claiming procedure, but she did not falsify nor claim more than what she was permitted.
"Once again, we wish Feng Tianwei all the very best for the future."
In an earlier interview with Shin Min Daily News, STTA president Ellen Lee (pictured) said Sim was eager to explain and protect STTA's interest and commented without deeper consideration and sparked this controversy.
"He has already realised his mistake. We have to be careful with what we post on social media," she said.
"We have spoken to him, to prevent such incidents from happening again."
- DAVID LEE