Tokyo 2020 is the last Olympics for Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu
It was not the opponents or the result they would have liked to have in a quarter-final but, perhaps fittingly, the 3-0 loss to China yesterday has brought the curtain down on the Olympic careers of Singapore's top female paddlers.
World No. 10 Feng Tianwei confirmed her fourth Games - a Singaporean record she holds with former teammate Li Jiawei and swimmer Joscelin Yeo - will also be her last.
The 34-year-old, who was knocked out of the women's singles in the round of 16, told The Straits Times: "I'm at peace and this seems like a natural decision.
"There's no particular reason. I have played at four Olympics and won three medals. I have no regrets.
"I will remain in Japan to play in the T.League which starts in September. As for the Asian, Commonwealth and SEA Games next year, we shall see. I will need some time to rest before deciding."
World No. 31 Yu Mengyu, 31, had earlier said this would be her final Olympics, but left the door ajar for next year's major Games.
Feng and Yu, who left their hometowns in China to pursue an international career, were part of the Singapore side that stunned China 3-1 to win the 2010 world team championship.
Feng also bagged an Olympic team silver at Beijing 2008 and two bronze medals (team and singles) at London 2012.
While Yu does not own an Olympic medal, she exceeded expectations in Japan, finishing fourth in the women's singles.
But it was a tough task in yesterday's team quarter-finals against mighty China, who have been unbeaten in this format at the Olympics since its introduction at Beijing 2008.
In the opening doubles at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, Yu and Lin Ye lost 3-0 (11-5, 11-7, 11-5) to world No. 1 and singles champion Chen Meng and Wang Manyu.
Feng was beaten 3-0 (11-8, 11-3, 11-8) by world No. 2 and singles silver medallist Sun Yingsha in the next match.
World No. 61 Lin's battling display against the fourth-ranked Wang before losing 3-1 (6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-5) offers hope for the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) to build on.
STTA president Ellen Lee thanked Singaporeans for their support but did not commit on whether her association would ramp up its foreign talent recruitment.
She said: "Our women's team fought hard today and I applaud them for coming this far even though we lost to China. Our debutante Lin Ye was on fire...
"Now we need to refocus and move on. Next year will be an exciting year as our team will be participating in the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and SEA Games.
"We are sure that, with our continuous effort, we will find success at the major Games."
- DAVID LEE, IN TOKYO