Wong Chun-ting and Doo Hoi-kem role models for young Hong Kong table tennis players
Success at world championships in Suzhou can spur home-grown talent
The success of Wong Chun-ting and Doo Hoi-kem at the World Table Tennis Championships has set an example for home-grown talent aspiring to reach the highest level, said head coach Chan Kong-wah.
Table tennis has long been criticised for using mainlanders for international success, but local youngsters Wong and Doo teamed up to reach the semi-finals of the mixed doubles in Suzhou.
“I think their success is a milestone in the development of table tennis in Hong Kong,” said the coach. “It proves if you work hard, you can achieve the same level of success, no matter whether you are from Hong Kong or the mainland.
“Wong  has been in the squad for five years and now he can play against many of the top players in the world, his match against Timo Boll [of Germany] is a vivid example. Doo  is still young and fast improving and has proved herself at the world junior level.
“Her first major senior event has proved to be another great success, although she still has a lot to learn, especially on how to control her emotion during and after matches.
There are many talented players in Hong Kong that I’ve seen, but many of them cannot either put up with the tough training or have quit halfway because they have no chance of beating players from the mainland.
“The success of Wong and Doo should be able to send them a positive message.”
The duo lost to eventual mixed doubles champions Xu Xin of China and Yang Hae-un of South Korea, in the semis.
Both are now setting their sights on the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.
“It’s good to see the youngsters come up strongly so that there can be more competition within the team and push us to work harder,” said veteran Jiang Huajun, who reached the round of 16 in the women’s singles before losing to defending champion Li Xiaoxia of China.
Wong’s improvement will further strengthen the men’s team, who already have Tang Peng and Jiang Tianyi as core players.
“Wong is good player in both singles and doubles and we have more options with his inclusion,” said coach Chan.
Meanwhile, top Hong Kong men’s player, Beijing-born Tang, lost to Ma Long of China 4-0 in the quarter-finals of the men’s singles on Saturday.
His loss ended Hong Kong’s campaign at the championships.
“It’s not a bad result overall as his target was a place in the round of 16,” said his coach Liu Guozheng. “There is a big gap between us and China and we need to do something to try to close the gap after we return to Hong Kong.”