S’pore beat S.Korea to take second bronze in table-tennis

Feng Tianwei and co. bring home a second bronze, Singapore's best-ever medal tally at the Olympics. (Reuters)Feng Tianwei and co. bring home a second bronze, Singapore's best-ever medal tally at the Olympics. (Reuters)

Singapore's Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu won a second bronze medal for the Republic at the London Olympics when they beat South Korea to clinch third place in the table tennis team event.

Watched on by table tennis chief Lee Bee Wah and Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing at London's ExCel Arena, Feng got Singapore to a great start when she beat arch-nemesis Kim Kyung Ah 3-1 (11-9, 11-8, 4-11, 13-11) in the first singles.

Wearing a changed red strip, Feng was the aggressor against Kim's chopping, defensive style.

The lead changed hands several times in the first game before Feng surged ahead 9-6 midway through and never looked back, winning it 11-9.

Feng remained in control in the second game, easily beating Kim 11-8, before an error-strewn third game allowed her opponent to win 11-4.

In the fourth game, Feng again wore Kim down with her array of forehand smashes and reached match point at 10-8. However, she then allowed Kim to draw level first at 10-10, then at 11-11 before finally prevailing 13-11 to give Singapore the overall lead.

In the second match, Li, playing in her first singles tie, was off to a flyer, beating Korea's Seok Ha Jung 11-5 in the first game. Her dominance continued in the second game, winning it 11-8.

But Seok regained her composure in the third game as she attacked Li relentlessly. Eventually, Seok took the game 11-6.

Stung by the loss, Li, who was playing in her fourth Olympics, started aggressively again in the fourth game and worked hard at her forehand. In the end, the 31-year-old's greater experience came through when she beat Seok 11-8 to give Singapore a 2-0 lead in the match.

Li Jiawei won her singles match before teaming up with Wang Yuegu to deliver the bronze (Reuters)Li Jiawei won her singles match before teaming up with Wang Yuegu to deliver the bronze (Reuters)

It was then up to the doubles pair of Li and Wang Yuegu to deliver the bronze medal for Singapore and they did not disappoint, steamrolling their way to two games to nil lead very quickly.

However, just like in the two singles matches before this, they allowed their opponents a glimmer of hope in the third, losing it 11-6.

But having lost the semi-finals 0-3 to Japan on Sunday, Singapore were not to be denied again as Li and Wang upped their game in the fourth, taking it 11-5, and winning the bronze medal.

The team celebrated after beating S.Korea to clinch a historic second bronze for Singapore (Reuters)The team celebrated after beating S.Korea to clinch a historic second bronze for Singapore (Reuters)

Singapore's second bronze in table-tennis on top of the one won by Feng Tianwei in the singles last week doubles the Republic's medal tally at the London Games -- making it the nation's most successful Olympic campaign ever.

Congratulatory messages for the players poured in after the game, with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong leading the accolades when he wrote "Congrats Team Singapore!" on his Facebook Page.

Acting Sports Minister Chan told the media afterwards, "We will take any medals. To be here fighting for the country at such a high level is already an achievement. Kudos to the men's team and Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), because it isn't just about the players, but also the entire support system that we have in place to make sure everybody comes here as one Team Singapore."

International Olympic Committee Vice-President Ng Ser Miang, who was part of the medal-presentation team, said: "I was very sure the women's team would win a medal, whatever colour, so I had opted to present the medals.

"After winning the silver in Beijing, the expectations were very high that they would come back with a medal, and so to me, any colour of medal they win is a great achievement. This is the Olympic Games, after all."

The feat by the players also means they achieved the STTA's pre-Games target of returning from London with two medals.

Under the Multi Million Dollar Award Programme, a bronze in the team event is worth S$375,000 which will be shared among the trio.

20 per cent of the amount must be ploughed back into the Association for future training and development.