SINGAPORE: She was carrying the hopes of a nation. And 25—year—old paddler Feng Tianwei kept her composure to deliver Singapore’s first medal at the London Olympics — a bronze in the women’s singles event.
"I have been very nervous since yesterday. I wanted to get this bronze medal very much. To win this bronze means a milestone has been reached. There is still the team event to come and I will strive to do my best in this competition," she said.
Singapore Table Tennis Association President Lee Bee Wah said she was quietly confident that Feng would beat her higher ranked Japanese opponent in the play—off for the bronze medal.
Kasumi Ishikawa is Japan’s top paddler and ranked sixth in the world, while Feng is two spots lower at 8th, but the Singaporean peaked at the right time.
The National Sports Association has now set its sights on the women’s team competition to deliver that targeted second medal at this Olympics.
"Feng Tianwei performed above her normal self. Anything can happen because anyone who takes part in the Olympics (is a) good player... It is the same advice that we have been giving to the players. Every point is important, go for every point," Ms Lee.
Many Singaporeans caught the historic match on TV.
But Feng also had support in the stands in London, among them Singapore President Tony Tan.
"This shows that Singapore can achieve excellence in sports at the highest level. I would also like to acknowledge the very hard work put in by SNOC and as well as by the Singapore Table Tennis Association in grooming our players. I think what Tianwei has achieved shows what is possible. I hope it would inspire others to aspire to do likewise," said Mr Tan.