World Team Table Tennis Championships: Minnie Soo stuns Ding Ning but Hong Kong fall to China and settle for bronze
Minnie Soo Wai-yam scores biggest win of her career against Olympic and world champion, but can’t help prevent 3-1 semi-final defeat in Sweden
Minnie Soo Wai-yam upset Olympic and world champion Ding Ning of China but could not help Hong Kong being stopped in the semi-finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships.
Instead Hong Kong had to settle for a bronze medal after a 3-1 defeat in Halmstad, Sweden on Friday night.
After Soo’s win, Doo Hoi-kem lost 3-2 to Zhu Yuling before Lee Ho-ching lost 3-1 to Liu Shiwen. Ding Ning put favourites China into the final with a 3-1 win over Doo in the best-of-five tie.
With no playoff for the bronze medal, Hong Kong joined a unified Korean team to finish third after the latter were beaten by Japan 3-0 in the other semi-final.
But for Soo, who turned 20 last month, it was the biggest win of her career, having been a reserve player at the last world championships in Kuala Lumpur.
“I think she really didn’t have confidence to receive my serve and I saw an opportunity,” said Soo, who normally plays the third singles tie for Hong Kong behind teammates Doo and Lee.
“I’m very pleased of course with the win. Before the match started I thought to myself that I must not lose by a big margin, get as close as I possibly could, hope the gap was not too wide.
“I’m really surprised with my performance, it was higher than usual, and hers was lower than usual. I tried my best not to think that she is the Olympic and world champion, I tried to treat her as any other player and give my best.”
Ding, currently the best player in the world, blamed herself for the surprising loss in the opening match.
“I didn’t play in the last two matches in this tournament and we don’t play against Hong Kong that often,” she said.
“In the match I was not really focused. Also my preparation was not too good. At the moment I don’t feel 100 per cent fit mentally or physically.”
Hong Kong coach Li Ching paid tribute to his charges, and said the Hong Kong Table Tennis Association has done a good job nurturing local talents over the last few years.
“It’s not easy challenging China and we did pretty well in some of the games,” he said. “I couldn’t ask for more from the girls.”
Hong Kong came fifth in the last team worlds after losing to Taiwan in the quarter finals. They beat the same opponents in the last 16 in Sweden.