Women's table tennis team beat Malaysia, deliver first gold for Singapore
BIRMINGHAM - Singapore are Commonwealth Games table tennis women's team champions again, after they beat Malaysia 3-0 in the final on Monday (Aug 1).
The Republic have made every women's team final since the sport was included in the Games programme in 2002, but were stunned by India in the 2018 final.
They have been in imperious form in this year's competition, however, as they steamrolled their way back to the top. Along the way, they beat England, Nigeria, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana, Australia and their Causeway rivals without dropping a match.
Underdogs Malaysia also have to be given credit for their never-say-die attitude, as they produced stirring comeback 3-2 wins against India and then Wales en route to the final.
But in a repeat of the 2014 final, Singapore pulled off another sweep.
After an early scare, Zeng Jian and Zhou Jingyi helped the team settle down by beating Karen Lyne and Ho Ying 3-1 (7-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-5) in the opening doubles match.
In the stands, a mini cheering competition also broke out between Singapore - featuring Singapore National Olympic Council president Tan Chuan-Jin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Culture, Community and Youth Eric Chua and Singapore Table Tennis Association president Ellen Lee - and Malaysia's contingent of supporters.
But it was the Singaporeans' roar and Majulah Singapura which rang out loudest after Feng Tianwei beat Alice Chang 3-0 (11-9, 11-1, 11-7) before Zeng overcame Ho 3-1 (11-3, 11-4, 8-11, 11-5) to re-establish their status as queens of Commonwealth table tennis. Australia took the bronze after overcoming Wales 3-0 in the play-off.
This is the Republic's first gold medal at these Games, and their second medal after swimmer Teong Tzen Wei's silver in the men's 50m butterfly on Saturday.
Singapore women's coach Jing Junhong paid tribute to her team, and said: "This gold medal did not come easy.
"We have a new team this time, with experience in Tianwei, but also young debutantes like Zeng Jian, Jingyi and Xin Ru. We are very united, which helped us overcome difficulties when we faced them.
"Before the tournament, we thought Australia would be the trickiest opponents, but we prepared and performed very well in the semi-final.
"Even though we faced some difficulties along the way, we were confident in our own capabilities. We were calm when the opponents threatened to fight back, which is very important."
The Singapore women's team will have a day's rest on Tuesday before they turn their attention to the individual events starting Wednesday. Given their fine form, a deep run into the women's singles and doubles looks likely.