Friday, August 15

Olympics - First medal in 48 years for Singapore

Olympics: First medal in 48 years for Singapore
15 August 2008 1812 hrs (SST)

BEIJING - A jubilant Singapore bagged its first Olympic medal in 48 years on Friday when its women's table tennis team made into the final of the team event by beating South Korea 3-2.

It has been a long wait for the city state which last made the podium at the 1960 Rome Olympics when weightlifter Tan Howe Liang won silver - Singapore's only previous medal.

"We will get a silver at least. I'm extremely satisfied and give my team full marks," said Singaporean coach Liu Guodong. "I feel that our mission has been accomplished because I treated today's match as a final.

"Having worked as a coach in Singapore for two years, I'm very happy to have helped the country end its 48-year medal drought."

Feng Tianwei was the heroine. She got the ball rolling with an 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 victory over Dang Ye-seo before world number six Li Jiawei lost to Kim Kyung-ah 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9.

Li then paired with Wang Yue Gu, showing perfect teamwork to beat Kim and Park Mi-young 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 in the doubles.

But Dang bounced back to crush an exhausted Wang 11-8, 14-12, 11-9.

With the match tied at 2-2, Singapore's destiny fell to Feng, who displayed courage to beat a tenacious Park 11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 11-9.

"I had to be patient and wait for opportunities to attack," said a relieved Feng. "When everyone was nervous at the last moment, staying calm was my advantage."

Li added that it was a proud day for her. "After today's competition I hugged Feng Tianwei and cried. I have never cried after any victory before. But I cried because we led this team to victory and we have fulfilled Singapore's expectations of a medal."

South Korean coach Hyun Jung-Hwa paid tribute to Singapore and said his side would now target bronze in the play-off. "It's pity that we lost, but we will try to get a bronze medal," she said.

Singapore will face China in the final on Sunday, after China beat Hong Kong 3-0 in the semi-finals.

Semi-final results: Singapore beat South Korea 3-2

Feng Tianwei (SIN) bt Dang Ye Seo (KOR) 11-5, 11-5, 11-2

Kim Kyung Ah (KOR) bt Li Jiawei (SIN) 5-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9

Wang Yuegu/Li Jiawei (SIN) bt Park Mi Young/Kim Kyung Ah (KOR) 11-7, 11-6, 11-9

Dang Ye Seo (KOR) bt Wang Yuegu (SIN) 11-8, 14-12, 11-9

Feng Tianwei (SIN) bt Park Mi Young (KOR) 11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 11-9.

- AFP/ir
Jiawei preparing to serve:

Li JiaWei & Wang YueGu in the doubles:

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