by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Gone from the Singapore outfit that won the Men’s Team title four years ago in Glasgow are the names of Li Hu, Yang Zi and Zhan Jian; only the ever reliable Gao Ning, solid as the Pyramids of Giza, remains.
Now 35 years old will Gao Ning be on duty four years hence when we meet in Glasgow in 2022? It is a million dollar question but if he can force the aching legs to generate power for one last time; then Pang Yew En Koen could be his right hand man.
In Gold Coast, in the second round of the Men’s Doubles event, on the morning of Wednesday 11th April, he partnered an equally exciting prospect in the guise of Ethan Poh Shao Feng to a most impressive three straight games win against the host nation combination of David Powell and Kane Townsend (11-3, 11-8, 11-7). Both are teenagers, Ethan Poh Shao Feng is 19 years old, Pang Yew En Koen is 16 years of age. They proved too fast, too incisive for their Australian adversaries.
“I think we played well, I’d played in the team event earlier so I was prepared and used to the conditions; actually it’s the first time we’ve ever played together, it’s a bit of surprise that we played so well. Maybe we played well together because we are good friends. After the team event I’m disappointed that we didn’t get a medal but I’m taking that as a source of motivation for the individual events and for the future.” Ethan Poh Shao Feng
Success for Pang Yew En Koen and better news; at the recent Road to Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games Qualification Tournament, in both the first and second Men’s Singles events he was the runner and just fell short of reserving his place in the South American city.
“I was so nervous in Tunisia; here it’s fine, I’m not nervous at all. Nearly all the players here are older than me so I don’t feel under any pressure at all.” Pang Yew En Koen
So near in Tunisia, there are more Road to Buenos Aires Youth Olympic Games tournaments to follow, if possible, it will be good to see him in action later in the year in the prestigious event
Also be good to see him in Birmingham four years hence, Gold Coast is too soon but Birmingham in 2020, a place on the podium, it is worth a wager of a few English pounds.