LONDON: Rivalries between the women paddlers of Singapore and Japan will be renewed at the London Olympics.
On Saturday night (Sunday morning, Singapore time), Singapore overcame North Korea 3-0 at London’s ExCel Arena to set up a semi-final clash with the Japanese on Sunday (Monday morning, Singapore time) in the women’s team event of the London Games’ table tennis competition.
Singapore had denied the Japanese a bronze medal in the women’s singles earlier this week after Feng defeated Kasumi Ishikawa in the third-place play-off, although the left-handed Japanese world No 6 had eliminated Wang from the women’s singles.
Japan, the competition’s second seeds, beat Germany 3-0 in the last eight.
And Singapore’s national women’s team assistant coach Jing Junhong believes the semi-final showdown will be another tense encounter.
“We are old rivals, and matches between us are always close affairs. We’ve a 50-50 chance,” said the former national player who reached the last four of the women’s singles at the 2000 Sydney Games.
Against the North Koreans, world No 11 Wang Yuegu got Singapore off to a strong start with a 3-1 (11-7, 11-9, 5-11, 11-5) win over Ri Myong Sun, before Feng Tianwei doubled the advantage by beating Kim Jong 3-1 (9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4).
It was left to Wang and Li Jiawei to seal victory with a 3-1 (4-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8) win in the doubles’ game over Kim and Ri Mi Gyong.
“I need to get ready for Japan, especially (Kasumi) Ishikawa as she is fast,” said Wang. “The selection of players will have an impact on the game. It’s important we can keep up with their speed.”
The other semi-final on Monday will see top seeds China against South Korea.
China swept aside the Netherlands 3-0 earlier on Saturday, while the South Koreans edged Hong Kong in a 3-0 victory.
In the men’s team event, Singapore beat Australia 3-0 to advance to the quarter-finals. Singapore will meet China on Sunday for a place in the semi-finals (1000 GMT).
Channel News Asia