Olympics: S'pore table tennis player Feng says postponement 'right move', but challenges await
SINGAPORE - As the number of coronavirus cases continues to spike worldwide with more than 390,000 infections and over 17,000 dead, Singapore's most bemedalled Olympian and top paddler Feng Tianwei agrees that the postponement of the July 24-Aug 9 Tokyo Olympics is 'the right move'.. Read more at straitstimes.com.
The world No. 9 is encouraged by the decision not to cancel the quadrennial event entirely, but the rescheduling throws up issues such as fitness, form and finances as she plans for what appears to be her final Olympic medal push.Since table tennis made its debut at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, only six female paddlers over the age of 30 have won a medal, with Germany's Shen Xiaona the oldest at 33 when she won a team silver at Rio 2016.
Time is not on Feng's side as she turns 34 in August, even though she beat China's world No. 1 Chen Meng and some of Japan's top players - including joint-world No. 9 Kasumi Ishikawa - to work her way back into the top 10 after falling to 13th last July.
While the Singapore women's team have already qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, an extra 12 months with the rescheduled Olympics will mean that Feng has to continue hustling for world ranking points to attain better seedings in the women's singles and team events.
Feng, who has been coping with a chronic wrist complaint, told The Straits Times:"The decision to postpone the Olympics is a fair one for everyone."I just hope that I can do what is required of me to be at my best when the Olympics is eventually held, and that is to take good care of my body, maintain my technical and fitness levels to face the different challenges that are to come."
There are also financial considerations for Feng, who has one team silver from Beijing 2008 and bronzes in the singles and team at London 2012.After cutting ties with the Singapore Table Tennis Association in 2016, she no longer receives an allowance from the association. She receives funding via Sport Singapore's Spex Scholarship, but there is pressure to play more - 20 to 30 events a year - and do well to justify the financial support.
The International Table Tennis Federation's suspension of its World Tour events has hurt Feng, although next year's introduction of the US$13 million (S$18.8m) World Table Tennis series will offer the opportunity to earn more prize money. The funds are needed to sustain her five-man team comprising two coaches, two sparring partners and a manager, as well as her overseas training programme.
Feng, who is currently training in Japan, was based in Europe before the Covid-19 pandemic and expenses can easily run into a six-figure sum a year.Feng said:"At this point, if I want to continue playing and strive to do well at the rescheduled Olympics, I will need to find more sponsors to maintain the team I have built so that I can continue to improve and be ready for battle.
"I'm always thankful for the Spex Scholarship and the good relationship with Singapore Sport Institute over the years, and I hope to continue to have their support in this long and tough journey." Read more: The Straits Times »
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