Slim hopes for Isabelle and Clarence to make Olympics
The Singapore Table Tennis Association will send its strongest possible line-up for the April Olympic qualifiers, which means Isabelle Li and Clarence Chew will not represent the Republic in singles events in Rio 2016.
STTA senior high performance manager Eddy Tay revealed the selection yesterday and said: "We have registered Gao Ning (men's world No. 21), Li Hu (60th), Yang Zi (163rd) and Chen Feng (172nd) for the men's team, and Feng Tianwei (8th), Yu Mengyu (34th), Zhou Yihan (45th) and Lin Ye (56th) for the women's team.
"We based our selection on current world rankings and, accordingly, these are our eight best players."
The Asian leg of the continental qualifiers will be held from April 13 to 17 in Hong Kong, where a total of 22 Olympic slots (11 men, 11 women) will be up for grabs.
Tay told The New Paper that the door is not yet closed on paddlers who wish to represent Singapore at the Olympics in August, as they can still be selected as the third athlete if the Republic qualify for the men's and women's team events.
A country is deemed to have qualified for the team event when it has two athletes who have qualified for either or both of the men's and women's singles events.
Tay referred to the STTA Olympic selection policy, which states that the third athlete will be picked based on his or her world ranking, technical ability and results in doubles competitions (as there is a doubles element in the team events) and technical ability against different playing styles.
Based on the criteria set, of the two Singapore Sports School alumni, it appears Chew has the highest chance to catch the flight to Rio.
The men's world No. 176, who is just four spots behind Chen, has been to five World Championships (individual and team events) since 2011.
The 20-year-old (photo) who made a 37-place leap in this month's rankings and adds a different tactical dimension by virtue of being a southpaw, said: "Of course, I'm motivated by the possibility of playing at the Olympics.
"I will continue to work hard, not just for the Olympics, but also for my personal growth.
"Even if I don't make it to Rio, I'm still young enough to fight for a place in the team for Tokyo 2020.
"I'm feeling more confident playing against higher-ranked opponents and I hope to climb to around 100th-120th in the world rankings by the end of the year."