Thursday, November 17, 2011

Singapore's Isabelle

SEA Games: Singapore complete clean sweep in table tennis
17 November 2011

JAKARTA: Before they went into action here at the 26th SEA Games, Team Singapore's table tennis stars walked the playing hall and the streets without any fuss.

It was a very different story on Wednesday.

The team of eight were mobbed by local fans at the Soemantri Brodjonegoro Sports Complex after sweeping all five of the gold medals on offer in table tennis.

It was an all-Singapore affair on the final day of table tennis, with world No 4 Feng Tianwei claiming the gold medal in the women's singles and Gao Ning emerging as the men's singles champion.

Feng, 25, proved too good for her younger team-mate, Isabelle Li, the 17-year-old debutant.

There was tremendous support for the two Singapore women in the stands, that also featured a contingent of Team Singapore supporters, including chef-de-mission Dr Tan Eng Liang.

Feng was never troubled, wrapping up the final 4-0 (11-3, 11-4, 11-9, 11-5) in 35 minutes.

Said the defending champion, who also picked up a gold in the women's doubles: "I think today Isabelle was not so used to my style and I played better and was more steady.

"Isabelle is a player with a lot of promise. She's good and she just needs to work on her aggression and attack."

Feng returns to Singapore on Thursday before departing for London on November 21 to compete in the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals.

Watched by her family members and friends, last year's Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Isabelle was delighted to finish second on her debut.

"There is still a gulf in standard between us, and it was a hard match for me. This is my first time competing against Tianwei and it was a very special moment for me playing against a world champion and world No 4," said the teenager.

In the men's singles final that followed, it was sweet revenge for veteran Gao Ning, who notched a 4-0 (11-6, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8) victory over team-mate Yang Zi. The 29-year-old had lost the Commonwealth Games gold to Yang in New Delhi last year,

Gao Ning, who claimed his third successive singles gold in the event, said: "It's a good feeling. I think I prepared more sufficiently this time around and clinched the crucial points."

With five golds and four silver medals from five events, table tennis is the most successful sport for Singapore here.

Selection issues had dogged the paddlers ahead of the SEA Games, as the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) got into a tangle with the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC).

It was eventually resolved, and speaking on Wednesday, STTA president Lee Bee Wah said: "I'm very proud of them, especially our younger players Xuejie and Isabelle. I think the results speak for itself ... the STTA wants to groom younger players.

"In future, the policy of sending one set of senior players to get medals and another set of younger ones for development will remain (for SEA Games)."

Chef-de-mission Tan, a vice-president at the SNOC, personally congratulated Lee on the team's success.

"Our congratulations to the paddlers and the association for winning five gold medals. They deserve our fullest and heartiest congratulations.

"The younger players, especially Isabelle and Pang, they have done well to reach where they are, and it's good for them and table tennis," he said.

I am so happy and proud of Isabelle being a true blue Singaporean and manage to beat a China Born “Singaporean”.

Just imagine if there is no Feng in the team, Isabelle may just be the SEA game’s champion.

Personally I do not support these “buying” of foreigner, give them a citizenship and let them represent Singapore.

It is different if one migrated here and Singapore developed him or her to represent Singapore.

If he or she is already trained and just because his/her home country has quota of sending them to world championship and these players has to seek second home in Singapore then it is not too correct.

To them Singapore is just suckers for putting someone on the world map of sports.

In fact I think fame is not so important. We don’t have to win an Olympic medal by importing foreigners.

We should spend more time and effort to develop our own people. True blue Singaporean.

Isabelle stands a good chance of being one of the world best. I think we should be spending more money on Table Tennis then those idiotic swimmers who try to speak like American.

Looking forward to see more or Isabelle in the future, and congratulation for winning the silver medal.