Hong Kong’s table tennis players are hoping improved mental strength, bolstered by their performances at the 2020 Olympic Games, can lead to better results at the World Championships, which are due to kick off in Houston on Tuesday. The women clinched a team bronze after toppling favourites Germany in the medal play-off in Tokyo, Hong Kong’s second-ever table tennis Olympic medal after a men’s doubles silver from Ko Lai-chak and Li Ching at the 2004 Athens Games. “They have grown a lot after going through the toughest tournament in the world this summer, especially on their mental side,” said table tennis head coach Chan Kong-wah. “Even the mixed doubles pair who lost in the quarter-finals in Tokyo have taken something from their defeat. “Our preparation for the worlds is not perfect because we needed to go through quarantine after returning from the Asian Championships and the WTT series in Doha last month. Also some of the players were required to attend commercial activities after the Olympic Games. But as the big events in table tennis return, we hope they can rise to the occasion and bring home some ‘surprising’ results, just like they did in Tokyo this summer.” HK’s table tennis Olympic bronze medallists to skip National Games Mixed doubles pair Wong Chun-ting and Doo Hoi-kem will be eager to make amends in Houston after a disappointing run in the Tokyo Olympics where they were stunned by French pair Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jianan in the last eight. “Wong and Doo are always our main hopes even if they lost in the Tokyo Olympics,” said Chan. “They have captured world championships medals twice before and are eager to maintain their good track record. “Doo overcame Kasumi Ishikawa of Japan to reach the women’s singles quarter-final in Budapest two years ago before losing to Chen Meng of China. She had a great Olympic Games and if she can stay focused in Houston, she may be able to create a few surprises. “Minnie Soo is still nursing a hand injury but she did suffer similar problems before the Olympics and was still able to do so well in the medal match against Germany in Tokyo. If she can keep that attitude, she may be able to have another good run.” China stars Fan and Chen confirmed for table tennis world championships World powerhouses China are still expected to sweep most of the medals, although their three long-serving members Ma Long, Xu Xin and Liu Shiwen are not part of the squad to North America. Ma won three consecutive world singles titles from 2015 to 2019 and successfully defended his Olympic singles title in Tokyo. Although the 33-year-old has vowed to continue, he may gradually fade out from the world stage with Fan Zhendong taking over the baton in the men’s team. In the women’s singles, China remain the team to beat even without defending champion Liu. Olympic gold medallist Chen Meng and runner-up Sun Yingsha are expected to battle it out for the gold, like they did in Tokyo, while Japan’s Ito Mima poses a threat to the Chinese players.