Hong Kong table tennis ace Wong Chun-ting hopes to overcome stage fright at world championships
World No 12 must overcome his fear of team competition if he is to fully display his potential, says coach Chan Kong-wah
Top Hong Kong paddler Wong Chun-ting is determined to overcome his fear of team competition as he competes in the table tennis team world championships, which will serve as a dress rehearsal before the Olympics this summer.
The world number 12 will lead the men’s team in the tournament in Kuala Lumpur this weekend, one of the last building blocks for the Rio Games this summer.
Table tennis, along with cycling, badminton and windsurfing, has been identified as having realistic potential to produce medals for Hong Kong at the 2016 Games.
“I always feel under pressure when playing in the team event and the Kuala Lumpur world tournament will be a good opportunity to rehearse prior to the Rio Games,” said the 24-year-old Wong. “When I play in the individual events, I have to take the responsibility for my own results, but in team events, it is more complicated than that as your performance will affect your fellow team members’ results. I always feel nervous in that situation.”
Although Wong still has to deliver in the Asian qualification tournament on home soil in April to book his ticket to the Olympics, although his world ranking means he is very likely to make it to Rio.
“Reaching the Olympics gives me a feeling of excitement and I want a good performance at the world championships before gearing up for the Rio Games,” said Wong.
Hong Kong coach Chan Kong-wah said his charge still had a lot to learn on the international stage. “His performance is not very stable at the moment although we never doubt his quality to become a top player,” said the coach. “The world championships will be a timely test for him and if he can get through that one, he can look forward to the Rio Games.”
Hong Kong finished a dismal 17th at the last world team event in Tokyo two years ago and the coach wants to see an improved result from his team that also features veteran Tang Peng, the world number 17 and three youngsters - Ho Kwan-kit, Lam Siu-hang and Ng Pak-nam. A knee problem has kept regular choice Jiang Tianyi out of the squad. “Our target is a place in the quarter-finals and we need that result to boost our confidence,” said Chan.
The women’s team, who finished third in Tokyo, is among the medal favourites, having been boosted by the return of rejuvenated veterans Tie Yana and Jiang Huajun.
Tie, 36, won the Hungarian Open last month when she beat one of the rising stars of the circuit, Yang Hae-un of South Korea, in the final. Her tournament victory pushed her world ranking to 20th. Other team members are Lee Ho-ching (ranked 22nd), Doo Hoi-kem (24th), Jiang (27th) and Soo Wai-yam (106th).