11 Feb 2017

Table Tennis fans from across the world have been greeted with some shock news after Singapore's Chen Feng, aged just 23, announced his retirement from the Singapore national team on Thursday 9th February.

Meanwhile, news of Pang Xue Jie's commitment to the sport has left the country's national setup with a much changed line-up moving forward.

by Simon Daish and Ian Marshall

Chen Feng, who is a two-time South East Asia Games gold medallist regretfully confirmed his retirement from the Singapore national team due to family reasons.

Leaving his home in Hebei to join China’s youth provincial team, aged just seven at the time, Chen Feng then made the move to Singapore where he became a national citizen in 2013 and has represented the city state on the world table tennis stage.

The 2011 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals saw Chen enjoy a strong campaign in London in what acted as a test event for the 2012 Olympic Games: the Singapore player picked up an impressive victory over Korea Republic’s Lee Sangsu in the last four before going on to finish in the runners up position to Kim Minseok also from Korea, in the Under 21 Men’s Singles final.

Impressively, in July 2011 and December 2012, Chen Feng reached no.3 on the Under 18 Boys’ Rankings table.

Since then Chen has progressed to reach the Men’s Singles semi-final stages of the 2012 Polish Open and the 2016 Australian Open on the ITTF World Tour, while a strong showing in Surat, India led Chen to the Men’s Singles trophy at the 2015 Commonwealth Championships.

“It has been many years since I got to spend quality time with my family.  During my recent visit to my parent’s house, I realized that my parents are no longer young and energetic.  They mean a lot to me and I realise that I can no longer take them for granted”, Chen Feng.

The news of Chen Feng’s retirement has come as a disappointment to the Singapore Table Tennis Association, but it is a decision that they ultimately respect.

“It is regrettable that Chen Feng has to leave us.  While it is very unfortunate that he had to retire because of his family commitments, we understand his responsibility to his family”, Ellen Lee PBM, President Singapore Table Tennis Association.

Pang Xue Jie at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur (Photo: Rémy Gros)

While Chen Feng may be bringing his career to an end, there has been some positive news for table tennis fans in Singapore as Pang Xue Jie has committed himself to being a full-time professional table tennis player.

Pang Xue Ji has been involved in a full-time national service programme since 2014, serving with the Singapore Police Force. He led the Singapore Police Force to victory in the singles and doubles table tennis event at the 2015 World Police and Fire Games Recap, USA.

Following his stint with the Singapore Police Force, Pang has decided to return to table tennis as a full-time player in an attempt to further realise his sporting potential demonstrated in his earlier years. Notably, he won the Men’s Doubles title in partnership with Ma Liang in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games, whilst one year earlier he was a member of the successful Singaporean Men’s Team at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

Last year at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Pang registered a standout result when he defeat Japan’s Koki Niwa and now the 24-year-old Singapore player is hoping to return to Kuala Lumpur later in the year for the 2017 South East Asia Games.

“Table tennis is my passion.  I love the sport and I have played it for more than 20 years, so much so, it has become a big part of my life.  My immediate plan is to train hard and qualify for the upcoming 2017 South East Asia Games and I will do my utmost best for Singapore”, Pang Xue Ji.

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