Feng Tianwei settles for bronze
Her knees were not functioning at 100 per cent, her back hurt so much she had to sit out most of the women's team event, and skipped the women's doubles altogether.
Nevertheless, Singapore's No. 1 female paddler Feng Tianwei displayed great fighting spirit to overcome the odds and bring home the Asian Championships' women's singles bronze medal from Pattaya, Thailand.
In yesterday's semi-finals, the world No. 7 lost 4-0 (11-9, 11-7, 12-10, 11-3) to China's world No. 8 Chen Meng. But, in her previous four singles matches, the 29-year-old Feng had already shown she has what it takes to win an Olympic medal again next year.
Her quality was especially evident in the quarter-finals when she clinically took apart China's world No. 2 Liu Shiwen 4-2 (11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 13-11), repeating the feat she accomplished in March, when she beat Liu to take the Asian Cup women's singles crown.
Her victory over Liu prevented an all-China final four, with Chen, Zhu Yuling and Mu Zi taking the other three spots.
Women's national coach Jing Junhong told The New Paper: "We are very pleased with the results of the individual events, and the medals were definitely very hard-earned.
"We finished eighth in the women's team event, which was a result of Tianwei's injury. We had to field our younger inexperienced players.
"(Yu) Mengyu also did well in the mixed doubles to win a silver with Yang Zi. So all these should stand us in good stead psychologically.
"We will have a very packed few months ahead of us, with the Polish Open, Women's World Cup and World Tour Grand Finals coming up.
"We will have to do well to chalk up more ranking points as we work towards the Olympics."
Feng was gracious in defeat, and conceded that her semi-final opponent played a "flawless" round of table tennis.
"Her ability level is higher than mine, and she came well-prepared for this match," Feng said.
"She seemed to know my playing style, my moves and how to tackle them. But, for me, it's only the second time I played against her, so I don't know her well.
"There were some crucial points that I think I didn't handle well, and that gave Chen Meng the advantage.
"The result is expected as her play was flawless today and I couldn't find any opportunity to turn the tables."
Chen admitted that she was more on her toes after seeing Feng beat her teammate Liu on Thursday.
The 21-year-old said: "After she beat Liu Shiwen last night in the quarter-finals, I did more preparation. I'm glad that I could implement all these strategies in the match.
"Feng Tianwei was good in the match too, but she missed the opportunities, losing crucial points, especially when she led 10-9 in the first game."
Later in the day, Zhu beat an injured Chen 4-1 (12-10, 11-8, 6-11, 11-1, 11-0) to take the women's singles title, while China's Fan Zhengdong/Xu Xin beat South Korea's Jung Youngsik/Lee Sangsu 4-0 (11-8, 11-7, 11-7, 11-7) in the men's doubles final.
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