by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
A three matches to one margin of victory was the end result; the contest starting with a major upset; Minnie Soo Wai Yam, one month to the day after celebrating her 20th birthday had an event bigger event to celebrate.
She beat Ding Ning, the reigning Olympic and World champion, quite incredibly, she succeeded in three straight games (11-7, 11-6, 11-7).
“I’m very pleased of course with the win; before the match started I thought to myself that I must not lose by a big margin, get as close as I possibly could, hope the gap was not too wide. I’m really surprised with my performance; my performance was higher than usual, hers was lower than usual. I tried my best not to think that she is the Olympic and World champion, I tried to treat her as player and give me best.” Minnie Soo Wai Yam
I cannot think of any occasion since I first saw Ding Ning win the Girls’ Singles title at the 2005 World Junior Championships in Linz, Austria, that Ding Ning has been so soundly beaten by either a colleague or foreign adversary.
“I didn’t play in the last two matches in this tournament and we don’t play against Hong Kong that often. In the match I was not really focused. Also my preparation was not too good; at the moment I don’t feel one hundred per cent fit mentally or physically.” Ding Ning
Defeat for Ding Ning, in the second match of the fixture there was a close call for Zhu Yuling. She needed the full five games to beat Zhu Yuling (11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8), before in four games Liu Shiwen accounted for Lee Ho Ching (11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-4) and Ding Ning returned to the arena to conclude matters by overcoming Doo Hoi Kem (11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8).
Success for China but Hong Kong deserved the greatest praise, Li Ching, the national coach was understandably most pleased.
“It’s the first time that we have gone out there and threatened China, not just laid down and died. Today they played with belief. You have to believe against the Chinese and be at the top of your game; their technique is so good. My team has still a lot to learn but it is a young team, they have to deal with their emotions and they must play from the heart.” Li Ching
Notably Minnie Soo Wai Yam is the youngest member of the team, Doo Hoi Kem is 21 years old, Lee Ho Ching is 26 years of age; a bronze medal was a worthy prize.