By: 永久浪客/Forever Vagabond
Singapore’s team consisted of: Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu and Zhou Yihan.
In the first singles, Feng was beaten by China’s Li Xiaoxia with scores 12-10, 11-8 and 11-9. In the second game, Zhou lost to China’s Ding Ning with scores 7-11, 11-9, 6-11, 2-11. And in the crucial doubles match, Yu partnered Zhou to take on China’s Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen. But the Singapore pair was no match for their Chinese rivals and were beaten 11-4, 11-1, 11-9.
Apart from Feng, Yu and Zhou are playing at the Olympics for the first time, making their dreams come true to play at the Olympics.
Foreign Sports Talent Scheme
All the 3 Singapore’s players were hailed from China under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FST).
This is a government scheme used by sports officials and organisations in Singapore to scout and facilitate the migration of foreigners deemed to possess “sports talent” to play in Singapore colours in sporting events. It was first introduced in 1993 by the Singapore Table Tennis Association.
Yu came Singapore as a 17-year-old also under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme. She hailed from Liaoning province of China. In an interviewlast month with the media, she said, “Competing is a privilege reserved for only the best in China. Before I came to Singapore, I couldn’t take part in professional tournaments or major Games. My dreams felt impossible.”
“I got to play on the international circuit after coming here, and I was just focused on doing that well,” she added, thanks to Singapore’s Foreign Sports Talent Scheme.
In 2008 Beijing Olympics, Yu was not selected to go and had to sit in front of a television in Singapore to watch her compatriots play. From then on, Yu set out to make the Olympic stage herself.
“I did feel down when I was on the bench watching others play the big events. There’s this rush to just go up and be the one playing,” she told the reporter.
“I’m not the most tenacious player, but I’m very persistent when it comes to what I want,” she added. “I guess that was what helped me hang on for so long. The Olympics was a dream not yet fulfilled. So no matter the setback, I’d imagine what it would feel like to be at the Olympics, and all the grind would feel worth it.”
She finally got her wish to participate at the Rio Olympics this year, competing under the Singapore flag.
Zhou, the youngest player of the 3, is also a Liaoning native hailed from China. She came to Singapore in 2010 and was granted citizenship in 2013.
When she was selected to go to Rio Olympics, she was “over the moon”. She said in aninterview, “I am so happy that I have been selected to represent Singapore. It has always been my childhood dream.”
“Hopefully, I will be able to perform my best at the Olympics,” she said.
STTA explained why Zhou was chosen to represent Singapore at Rio, “Zhou has been selected by the STTA selection committee to be the third player in the team event.”
“Zhou was selected based on the following factors: May 2016 ITTF Olympics singles ranking (50th), her technical ability, results in doubles and technical ability against different playing styles,” it added.
For Zhou and Yu who participated in the Olympics for the first time, it was indeed a dream come true for them. If they had stayed in China, they would probably not have the possibly to do so.
In any case, since the 3 have been knocked out of the team semi-finals, they could not get gold anymore. As such, they would not be able to attend the Parliament, which would move motion to congratulate them for getting gold for Singapore, like what Singaporean native Joseph Schooling has gone through yesterday.