Hong Kong’s women challenged to turn bronze into silver at table tennis World Team Championships
- City to send five women and five men to next week’s competition in Chengdu
- Women’s team have finished third four times in past six editions of worlds
Hong Kong’s women have been challenged to change the colour of their success when they compete at the table tennis World Team Championships next week.
The team has won bronze four times over the past six championships, with the most recent coming at the 2018 event in Halmstad, Sweden.
After also taking bronze at last year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, head coach Chan Kong-wah believes now is the right time for the city’s female paddlers to go at least one better.
“It’s been on my mind for many years, and I believe it is time for our players to change the colour of the medal,” he said.
“Our women’s team is much more mature after the Tokyo Olympics, and it is the right time to achieve it.”
Five female players, including Olympic bronze medallists Doo Hoi-kem, Lee Ho-ching and Minnie Soo Wai-yam, and five men will represent the city at the champions, which are being held in Chengdu, China, from September 30 to October 9.
And Doo, the world No 7, believes the attitude that powered them to glory in Tokyo can fire them to greater heights at the worlds
“What made us win a medal in the Olympics was our mindset,” the 25-year-old said. “Including the bronze medal match against Germany, we put ourselves in a lower position, playing each match as an underdog.
“We will approach this World Team Championships with the same mentality. We will not allow the Olympic bronze weigh us down, but rather use it as a confidence booster and aim for better results.”
Hong Kong’s women are ranked third in the world, are hoping to repeat the achievements of their predecessors in 2004 and 2006, when the city’s team won silver under the leadership of Tie Ya-Na, Lin Ling, and Zhang Rui.
Along with the Olympic trio, Zhu Chengzhu and Ng Wing-lam will make their team worlds debut, and all the players have been in a closed camp at the Hong Kong Sports Institute since last week in preparation for the event.
In the men’s competition, Tokyo Olympian Ho Kwan-kit has been ruled out through injury, leaving Hong Kong No 1 Wong Chun-ting vying with Lam Siu-hang, Ng Pak-nam, Li Hon-ming, and Yiu Kwan-to for a top-eight finish.
“We’ll take it one step at a time, focus on the pool matches first, then do our hardest in the knockout round,” Wong said.
The World Team Championships were originally expected to take place in Busan in South Korea, in 2020, but the event was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
This year’s event will be held in a closed-loop system similar to the Beijing Winter Olympics in February, with more than 1,000 athletes taking chartered flights arranged by the International Table Tennis Federation, allowing them to leave and enter Chengdu without having to quarantine.
The first stage draw is set for September 28, with 35 men’s teams and 31 women’s teams competing for the top two spots in each group to advance to the last 16.