Pair's trip to India falls so flat
MOST people slip into their cars for a joy ride but Hong Kong's table tennis starlet Chai Po-wa and teammate Wan Shun-kwan boarded a 'plane to New Delhi, India, for theirs.
The expedition started on Sunday evening and after a long delay to their flight they eventually arrived in New Delhi at dawn on Monday - to learn that the Asia Cup tournament had been postponed.
They were on the first available flight back to the territory, returning to Kai Tak yesterday afternoon.
However, neither player nor their coach David Cheng Chung-yin found the chain of events funny and blamed the Indian authorities for the communication break-down.
'It was a nightmare,' Cheng said. 'The organisers said they told all the participating countries that the event had been postponed, but I'm sure the Hong Kong Table Tennis Association were never notified.
'Kazakhstan were also there, so we weren't the only ones who did not receive notice of the postponement.' The tournament would have marked Chai's return to competition since suffering from severe tennis elbow, which saw her world ranking slip from a career-high number three early in the year to fifth position.
She has been overhauled on the International Table Tennis Federation chart by China's Liu Wei and Geng Lijuan - a former world champion now representing Canada. Chinese aces Deng Yaping and Qiao Hong are world numbers one and two.
'It's disappointing that the event has been postponed because it would have been my first international tournament since the World Championships in May,' said Chai, a two-time Asia Cup semi-finalist. 'I'm keen to put my form to the test after the injury and this would have been a good warm-up for the Women's All Stars series and the Asian Team Championship.' Furthermore, she considers the Asia Cup a good opportunity for her to gather some world ranking points which would help her bid to regain the number three spot on the ITTF list.
'I want to get back to number three before Atlanta,' said the 29-year-old whose position in the Olympic Games lineup has already been confirmed by the ITTF.
'I'm confident I can do it as I am not far behind Liu Wei and Geng Lijuan on points. It's unfortunate that the Asia Cup has been postponed because I could have picked up some points there.' Chai's next competition will be the three-stop Women's All Stars Series which start with the Hong Kong leg on December 15 and 16, followed by stages in Taipei and Shanghai. Another Hong Kong player invited for the tour is Chan Tan-lui.
Chai and Chan will be joined by schoolgirl champion Tong Kun in the Hong Kong squad for the Asian Team Championships in Shanghai from December 22 to 24.