- In the women’s team semi-final at the Games, the city’s athletes lose three games in a row to Japan’s paddlers – who are all more highly ranked – but Hong Kong team still has a shot at the bronze medal
- Li Jing, the women’s coach, said they needed to learn to be ‘more assertive’
The Hong Kong women’s table tennis team has had its Tokyo Olympics dream crushed by Japan’s elite paddlers, though they will still have a shot at the bronze medal.
Up against the three top Japanese athletes – who all have higher world rankings than the Hong Kong paddlers – the Hong Kong Olympians struggled to keep up with their pace.
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A team’s match consists of five games: one doubles and four singles. It takes three wins to storm through to the finals, but the Hong Kong team lost three games in a row.
“They need to be bolder,” said Li Jing, the team coach. “Watch more horror movies, and they will have a better chance at winning. They can then be more assertive.”
He added that the Japanese athletes were strong competitors, so he had expected the loss.
In the first game, Hong Kong’s dynamic duo, Minnie Soo Wai-yam and Lee Ho-ching, suffered a 0–3 loss to Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa and Miu Hirano.
It was then up to Doo Hoi-kem, ranked No 15 in the world, to take back the second game as she faced Mima Ito, the world’s No 3 paddler. But the Japanese athlete proved to be the stronger table tennis player and won the game 3–1.
Japan’s Hirano then took the third game against Hong Kong’s Lee 3–0, earning her team a spot in the finals.
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Hong Kong's Doo Hoi-kem loses to Japan's Mima Ito, whose team will advance to the finals. Photo: AFP
After the defeat, the Hong Kong athletes admitted they failed to catch up to the Japanese paddlers’ pace.
“It wasn’t just that they were fast,” Soo said. “We couldn’t find our pace.”
Hong Kong has so far won three medals at the Tokyo games: fencer Edgar Cheung Ka-long took gold in the individual foil, while Siobhan Haughey has taken two silvers in the 100m and 200m freestyles.