Floored by flu – Hong Kong’s Tie Yana is out of the running for table tennis singles at Olympics

Veteran can’t take part in crucial Asian regional qualification tournament in the city ... but she can still make it to Rio as part of the women’s team event

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 April, 2016, 11:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 12:07am

Hong Kong veteran Tie Yana’s dreams of making her fourth singles table tennis appearance at an Olympics were shattered when a bout of influenza ruled her out of the Asian regional qualification tournament starting in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

Tie has made a strong comeback in recent months but now we have to play without her
Hong Kong coach Chan Kong-wah

Hong Kong’s highest world ranked player at 20, Tie will not feature in the tournament at Queen Elizabeth Stadium in Wan Chai. The tournament ends on Sunday.

“She is now resting at home and will miss the tournament. There is little we can do about it,” said coach Chan Kong-wah. “Tie has made a strong comeback in recent months but we have to play without her.”

Tie, 36, has represented Hong Kong in three previous Olympic Games since 2004 and achieved the highest ranking for Hong Kong when she held the number three spot in the world in 2006.

Her career was interrupted in late 2013 when she became a mother but she has regained form, including winning the women’s singles at the Hungry Open in February and a bronze medal performance in the Qatar Open before losing to champion Ding Ling of China last month.

Any player who wants to take part in the singles event at the Rio Games has to start in the regional qualification and that’s why China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other Asian powers are all sending their top players to the tournament in Hong Kong.

Tie can still make it in the team event for Rio as the third and last player, if the Hong Kong women can qualify two players here or through the world ranking list in May.

Her husband, Tang Peng, a member of the men’s team, said it might not end too badly for Tie. “She is not young any more and if she needs to tackle both singles and team events in the Olympics, it may be a big demand on her physically,” said Tang. “Now it may be a better arrangement if she only focuses on the team event.”

The women’s team will now be spearheaded by two young guns – Lee Ho-ching and Doo Hoi-kem with the help of another veteran Jiang Huajun. In the men’s singles, Wong Chun-ting, who reached a career high of world number nine this month, will be the lead player along with Tang, Jiang Tianyi and Ho Kwan-kit.

Hong Kong are in the East Asia region and will face China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Taiwan in stage one where only one player will qualify.

In the next stage, six berths will be up for grab for all players across the continent.

Table Tennis Association chirman Tony Yue Kwok-leung was delighted to see the home-grown talents play an important role in both the men’s and women’s squad. “We have been nurturing these young bloods for many years and it’s time they produced results,” he said.

It is believed world powerhouses China will only play in stage one in Hong Kongso they can select their second singles player through the ranking list.