Four paddlers to debut in Commonwealth Games
STTA chief Lee targets clean sweep with mix of youth and experience
Most 15-year-olds can only dream of representing their country at an international tournament.
For Koen Pang, who turns 16 in May, donning Singapore colours became a reality yesterday, when the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) announced that Koen would be one of the debutants at the Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast from April 5-15.
Though this will be his first appearance at a major tournament, Koen does not appear overawed.
He said: "I performed well at the India Junior tournament last year by focusing on my performance.
"Similarly, for the Commonwealth Games, I won't be focusing too much about the final result."
The other debutants are Beh Kun Ting, 16, and Zhang Wanling, 18. All are members of the STTA's intermediate squad.
Ethan Poh, 19, will make his first Commonwealth Games appearance, though he played in last year's South-east Asia (SEA) Games.
Pang Xue Jie, 25, who knows all about representing Singapore on the international stage, acknowledged the role he and Gao Ning will have to play. The pair are the world's sixth ranked men's doubles pair.
The two-time SEA Games gold medallist said: "The senior athletes will guide the debutants along about the do's and don't's when they are in the Athletes' Village, and advise them on their opponents' playing styles."
Speaking in Mandarin, men's coach Liu Jiayi said: "We hope the younger athletes will gain more match experience.
We want them to win every gold there is.STTA president Ellen Lee, on their target for the April 5-15 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast
"For them to reach the quarter- or semi-finals will be a very positive result."
The women's team will see Zhang Wanling (ranked 255th in the world), 18, joining Feng Tianwei (fourth), Yu Mengyu (47th), Zhou Yihan (78th) and Lin Ye (83rd). Zhang was part of the Singapore team that lost to Japan in last month's International Table Tennis Federation Team World Cup.
Yet, expectations remain high for Singapore.
STTA president Ellen Lee said: "We want them to win every gold there is."
In the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Singapore almost recorded a clean sweep. The exception was the mixed doubles, which was won by England pair Paul and Joanna Drinkhall.