A silver medal at the highest level of competition in the region would have been the dream of many sports in Hong Kong. But in the case of table tennis, it was bitter disappointment. Having clinched one gold, two silver and two bronze medals at the last Games in Doha four years ago, the one medal Hong Kong won in Guangzhou - a silver from Cheung Yuk and Jiang Huajun in the mixed doubles - is a letdown. 'The result is disappointing, but not unexpected,' coach Chan Kong-wah (pictured) said. 'We are undergoing a transition period and many of our players have to work extremely hard to keep their best form. After all, they are not young anymore. 'When playing against other top teams in the region, the players must deliver in every match. This is very demanding because of their age.' Hong Kong's top player, Li Ching, was already 31 when he won two bronze medals in Doha, while Ko Lai-chak - with whom he won the silver in the doubles at the Athens Olympics - is now 34. Another key player, Cheung, is 30, while Tang Peng is 29. That leaves Jiang Tianyi, at 22, the youngest in the team. Li and Ko, who won the doubles gold medal in Doha, did not defend their title in Guangzhou, where Ko was replaced by Cheung. In the women's team, three key players - Tie Yana, Lin Ling and Zhang Rui - are all over 30. 'Except for Jiang, they have all passed their golden years and have little room for improvement. It is only a matter of time before they start dropping off the radar at the highest level,' Chan said. 'We have to find a solution sooner rather than later. 'I have already proposed to the Hong Kong Table Tennis Association that it's time to give our young players more opportunities, or we will have nobody to fill the gap in a couple of years' time.' Chan reckons it may take 10 years or more before the youngsters could be competitive at the highest level. 'It is not only important to give the existing young players like Tse Ka-chun and Chiu Chung-hei more opportunities, but also to launch territory-wide programmes to identify and nurture the next generation of youth players,' he said. 'It's a painful process as we may fail to produce results for some years, but if we really put in the effort, I am confident we can enjoy success again in the future. 'Japan have gone through the same process and now they have players like Jun Mizutani and Kenta Mutsudaira, who are around 20 but have already established themselves at the world's highest level.'