No added pressure from Singapore Table Tennis Association for Singapore's young starlets amidst rising expectations following Singapore Smash 2023
Rising star Izaac Quek will looking to build on his momentum following a phenomenal showing at Singapore Smash 2023. PHOTO: SINGAPORE TABLE TENNIS ASSOCIATION
Singapore, 2 May 2023 – Singapore, 2 May 2023 - For the second time in a year, Singapore Table Tennis Association will be sending a young team of paddlers up to the biennial Southeast Asian Games with the main goal of blooding its talents for bigger competitions.
This is especially the case with the Asian Games on the horizon later this year. While certain quarters that are more concerned with short-term success have leveled criticism at the approach after Singapore failed to make an appearance in either of the Men's or Women's Singles finals at last year's SEA Games, STTA are confident playing the long game will reap rewards in time to come.
Wong Xin Ru will be making her second SEA Games appearance this month. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG
Indeed, Singapore's outstanding showing at the 2022 Glasgow Commonwealth Games must be testament to a new culture that is being built from the ground up, in both entrusting and empowering its athletes to express themselves the best way possible, while sheltering them from understandable expectations that come with donning the Singapore jersey and flag on their chest.
At the Commonwealth Games last year, Feng Tian Wei and Zeng Jian produced an all-Singapore final in the women's event, with Feng signing off an illustrious career in the best way possible by capturing the elusive gold medal, while the duo also clinched the Women's Doubles Gold.
Koen Pang will hope to replicate his SEA Games gold medal success from 2019. PHOTO: JOHN YEONG, SPORTPLUS.SG
Singapore also enjoyed success in the Team Event with the Women's team comprising Feng Tian Wei, Zhou Jing Yi, Zeng Jian and Wong Xin Ru taking gold while the Men's team took silver as debutant Izaac Quek and Ethan Poh had their first taste of success at a Major Games, joining Clarence Chew and Koen Pang on the podium.
Expectations have skyrocketed since then, with both Izaac Quek and Koen Pang delivering phenomenal performances at the 2023 Singapore Smash that saw both Singapore starlet's global rankings enter the 70s for the first time. Quek ascended an impressive 25 places to No. 72, while Pang climbed 20 places to reach No. 79.
Speaking to members of media at a media conference last Thursday, STTA Deputy President Ms Poh Li San was eager to deflect unnecessary pressure from Singapore's young talents, emphasizing that while there are targets that have been set for the event, the SEA Games is just a platform for Singapore's young paddlers to gain experience for the bigger stage.
Olympian Clarence Chew leads the men's team with his experience, having first made his SEA Games debut in Myanmar in 2013. PHOTO: HANIDA HUSSEIN, SPORTPLUS.SG
Said Poh: "Understandable there are expecations but for us there is no more pressure for the two of them as what they achieved (as Singapore Smash) was merely a bonus. The SEA Games is really for our athletes to have opportunities as possible leading up to the Asian Games, with a field that is a lot stronger with the likes of China, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong."
"This will hopefully further improve their rankings, and help them to qualify for next year's Olympics."
Three paddlers will also be making their SEA Games bows this month, with Beh Kun Ting (22), Ser Lin Qian (17) and Izaac Quek (17) never having played at the regional Games before.
Zeng Jian will be leading the Women's Team as a senior, having won a host of personal and team accolades over the years. PHOTO: HANIDA HUSSEIN, SPORTPLUS.SG
Full Squad List
1. Clarence Chew 周哲宇, 28 years old (first SEA Games 2013, His 6th SEA Games)
2. Izaac Quek 郭勇, 17 years old (Debutant)
3. Koen Pang 冯耀恩 , 21 years old (first SEA Games 2019, His 3rd SEA Games)
4. Ethan Poh 傅绍锋, 24 years old (first SEA Games 2017, His 4th SEA Games)
5. Beh Kun Ting 马昆廷. 22 years old (Debutant)
1. Zeng Jian 曾尖 , 27 years old (first SEA Games 2022. Her 2nd SEA Games)
2. Zhou Jingyi 周靖祎, 18 years 0ld (first SEA Games 2022. Her 2nd SEA Games)
3. Wong Xin Ru 王歆茹, 22 years old (first SEA Games 2019. Her 3rd SEA Games
4. Ser Lin Qian 舒麟茜, 17 years old (Debutant)
5. Goi Rui Xuan 魏睿萱, 22 years old (first SEA Games 2019. Her 3rd SEA Games)
Zhou Jingyi (centre), one of several impressive young home grown talents, will feature at her second SEA Games. PHOTO: HANIDA HUSSEIN, SPORTPLUS.SG