No clean sweep for Singapore in table tennis
Top seeds Feng, Zhan fall to unheralded English pair in mixed doubles semi-final
The commentators called it the "greatest upset since table tennis was introduced into the Commonwealth Games in 2002".
Singapore's top seeds Zhan Jian and Feng Tianwei suffered a shock 3-2 (12-10, 11-8, 11-13, 6-11, 11-5) defeat by the unheralded English duo of Liam Pitchford and Ho Tin-Tin in the mixed doubles semi-finals at the Scotstoun Table Tennis Centre in Glasgow last night.
As a result, the Republic's dream of sweeping all seven gold medals in the sport went up in smoke.
On paper, it had looked like a no-contest. Pitchford, 21, is 55th in the men's singles world ranking, while Tin-Tin, only 15, is 240th in the women's list.
In stark contrast, Zhan is ranked 33th and Feng fourth respectively.
And Singapore have won this event in the previous three editions.
But the English youngsters made a mockery of history and the rankings as they raced to a two-game lead with their calm demeanour and fearless attacking moves.
Even though the Singaporeans fought back to level proceedings at 2-2, Pitchford and Tin-Tin stuck with their gameplan, raced to a 7-2 lead in the rubber game and claimed a famous scalp in 37 minutes.
London-born Tin-Tin, fearless against Feng despite their gulf of 236 positions in the world rankings, attends the City of London School for Girls, in Barbican, and is ranked No. 3 in England.
Earlier in the women's singles, she had already caught the eye by taking a set off Singapore's world No. 10 Yu Mengyu in their second-round match.
Tin-Tin, who picked up the sport when she was five, said in an earlier interview: "My dad loves table tennis a lot. He taught my brother and I to play (the sport). I started when I was five years old. He called my older brother 'Ping' and considered calling me 'Pong'!"
Her father, Charles Ho, an accountant who moved to England from Hong Kong two decades ago, explained that his daughter was named after the sport he loves and not the comic-book character.
He added: "I took the initials TT, for table tennis. Tin also means 'sky' (in Cantonese). The sky is the limit."
After fulfilling one of her ambitions to win a Commonwealth Games medal - Tin-Tin and Pitchford are assured of at least a silver and will meet compatriots Paul and Joanna Drinkhall in tonight's final - she has her sights on making the Rio Olympics.
And she walks the walk, too. The rare "penholder" played 126 matches last year, more than any other female paddler in the world during that period.
"I'm lucky the Commonwealth Games are this year because I haven't had any important exams," said Tin-Tin.
"Next year, I will be focusing on my GCSEs. I don't know how but I will just have to try to fit it all in.
"I am quite ambitious. I don't think I am missing out on that much. I want to study as well as play table tennis."
There was better news for the Singaporean paddlers elsewhere as they are assured of a gold in the women's singles event with Feng meeting Yu in the final early this morning (Singapore time).
Australian veteran Lay Jian Fang, 42, failed in her attempt to break Singapore's stranglehold on the event when she lost to second seed Yu 3-11, 8-11, 8-11, 6-11.
Top seed Feng dropped the second game to win 13-11, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8 against compatriot Lin Ye but Yu thinks that she will still go into the gold-medal match as the underdog.
"Tianwei has a lot of experience of big matches and she's had some great results," said Yu. "Her ability and experience are first rate."
In the men's doubles final early this morning, Gao Ning and Li Hu will have to overcome India's Sharath Kamal Achanta and Amalraj Anthony Arputharaj if they are to win Singapore's first Commonwealth Games gold medal in this event.
In the women's doubles, Feng and Yu beat Australia's Li Chunli and Karen Li 3-1 (11-5, 11-3, 9-11, 11-3) to progress to the semi-finals where they will meet England's Joanna Drinkhall and Kelly Sibley.
However, Lin Ye and Zhou Yihan fell 3-2 to Australian pair Lay and Miao Miao as they blew a two-game lead to lose 11-7, 11-7, 7-11, 3-11, 9-11.
In the men's singles, top seed Gao Ning beat Australia's William Henzell 15-13, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-6. Teammate and second seed Zhan Jian beat Canada's Eugene Wang 9-11, 1-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8 to progress to the semi-finals.
We didn’t really know what to expect coming into the tournament, but we have clicked together.
— England’s Liam Pitchford on his partner Ho Tin-Tin
Gymnast Hoe delivers bronze in vault event
Gymnast Hoe Wah Toon wore the broadest of smiles as he watched his scores appear on the screen at Glasgow's SSE Hydro yesterday.
The 25-year-old Singaporean did just enough to win the bronze medal in the men's vault final with an average score of 14.195.
He finished behind Canada's Scott Morgan (14.733) who took gold, and second-placed Englishman Kristian Thomas (14.499).
India's Ashish Kumar had looked good for a podium finish with his first vault score of 14.333, but the 23-year-old fell flat on his back in his next jump, relegating him to last place in the eight-man final.
While Hoe celebrated his bronze medal, there was little joy for the Republic's shuttlers, as two mixed doubles pairs crashed out at the quarter-final stage yesterday.
Chayut Triyachart and Yao Lei were blitzed by the English husband-and-wife pair of Chris and Gabby Adcock in their quarter-final, losing in straight sets 21-13, 21-14.
Triyachart and Yao fell in a 32-minute match in which they never once took the lead.
"We lost to better opponents today, they were very fast and controlled the net from the start," said Triyachart, who at 13-19 down in the second set, threw his racket up in the air in disappointment.
"We tried to open up the play and push them to the back, but were unable to get the upper hand."
Danny Chrisnanta and Vanessa Neo, seeded second in the mixed doubles event, suffered the same fate as Triyachart and Yao as they were knocked out by the Malaysian pair of Chan Peng Soon and Lai Pei Jing 21-8, 17-21, 21-19.
It was the same Malaysian pair who broke Singapore's hearts in the mixed team event semi-finals, beating Chrisnanta and Neo 2-1 in the rubber match to eliminate the Republic last Sunday.
Singapore, though, went on to win bronze medal by beating India.
Triyachart and Chrisnanta had no time to lament over their exits in the mixed doubles event as they had to play Scotland in the men's doubles quarter-finals this morning (Singapore time).
In the men's singles, Derek Wong was scheduled to take on India's Srikanth Kidambi in the quarter-finals, with Yao teaming up with Shinta Mulia Sari to face Malaysia in the women's doubles quarter-finals.