Hong Kong’s top homegrown table tennis player admits gulf in class to China is still vast

World No.1 Ma Long sees off home favourite Wong Chun-ting without much difficulty at Olympics qualifiers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 April, 2016, 1:04pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 April, 2016, 1:04pm

Hong Kong’s Wong Chun-ting put in a better performance against table tennis world number one Ma Long of China in the Asia Olympic qualifiers on Thursday – but admitted his 4-0 defeat showed he still has a lot more to learn at the highest level.

Despite a training camp with the mainlanders prior to the tournament, Wong found Ma, the hottest player on the tour, too difficult to handle.

Wong came close in the second and third games but never really looked like pulling off a stunning upset in front of his home fans at Queen Elizabeth Stadium.

Hong Kong teen Doo Hoi-kem storms into semis at table tennis’ Olympic qualifier

“I have trained with them before the tournament and they are just a class of their own,” said Wong, who became HK’s highest ever world-ranked homegrown player with ninth in this month’s ranking list.

“They have sent four players here and each one of them has the quality of becoming the Olympic singles champion in Rio.

“We still lag far behind them and need to work harder to find a way to beat them one day.”

Despite the defeat, Wong still has a chance of qualifying for Rio in stage two of the tournament which starts on Friday and has six more berths up for grabs.

We still lag far behind them and need to work harder to find a way to beat them one day
Wong Chun-ting

In stage one, only the five winners of each region in Asia can book their tickets to Rio. Hong Kong are in East Asia along with China, Japan, South and North Korea, and Taiwan.

But HK’s Tang Peng won’t be able to seal his Rio ticket in Hong Kong after withdrawing from his quarter-final tie against Fan Zhendong of China due to a back injury. He was trailing 5-2 in the opening game when he decided to quit.

“I suffered a bad twist of my back in the previous round and needed to take painkillers before starting today,” said Tang.

“I tried as we are playing in front of the home fans, but for the sake of the Olympic Games in four months’ time, I cannot afford taking the risk.”

Tang can still go through to the Rio Olympics with his current 12th place in the world rankings.

After the two qualifying stages, the next best 22 players on the world rankings go through.