In fact, supporting the International Table Tennis Federation’s policy of inclusion, education was on the agenda even before a ball had been hit in anger!
Gao Jun, the United States head coach, memorably in Chinese colours, women’s doubles silver medallist alongside Chen Zihe at the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, led a coaching webinar on Friday 4th March.
Local coaches were able to learn the necessary steps needed to nurture a player from grass roots to high level; a major theme being the importance of adapting the mentor’s approach to suit different ages.
Quite simply, the full gambit is on offer, virtual reality table tennis, an opportunity to see the many trophies won the Singapore Table Tennis Association as well as trying your hand when facing an iPong robot.
“We hope that in addition to providing those in Singapore the chance to catch enthralling sporting feats by the world’s best table tennis players, the Singapore Smash also leaves a legacy of uplifting the local table tennis fraternity.” Stephen Duckitt, Event Strategy Director, World Table Tennis
Trying your skills against a machine; there is also the chance to pit your abilities in competition.
The Smash Zone challenge is being staged at the Kallang Wave Mall located in the OCBC Square. Four categories on offer – under 15, under 19, open and veteran. Prizes include cash vouchers of up to $200.
Opportunities plentiful but arguably one of the most memorable opportunity was on Tuesday 15th March. A virtual meet-and-greet session was staged in which some 60 year players from Singapore, members of the Youth Team Squad, Junior Development Squad, and School-Within-A-School programme were able to question star names.
Notably present for the occasion was China’s Liu Shiwen, the 2019 women’s singles World champion, alongside Lily Zhang of the United States, Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto and Germany’s Patrick Franziska.
“Hosting events such as Singapore Smash brings extensive benefits to a host city and its local table tennis community. These include platforms for the public to engage with this wonderful sport, and the chance for aspiring young athletes to meet with and learn from the sport’s top players.” Steve Dainton, CEO, ITTF Group
Meeting the very best; moreover, there is one group comprising 30 young people that very much rubs shoulders.
The ball boys and ball girls, aged nine the 15 years of age, are members of the Singapore Smash Ball Kids’ Programme, an initiative organised in partnership with the Singapore Table Tennis Association.
“The first-ever Singapore Smash is truly a key milestone for the table tennis community in Singapore. The involvement of our young players in the event, whether as ball kids, or spectators or competitors, will give them valuable insight into what it takes to be on par with the top players in the world.” Ellen Lee, JP, PBM, President Singapore Table Tennis Association.
A new tournament but more than just another event on the calendar, a gathering that has a legacy, the WTT Singapore Smash, a catalyst that facilitates progress; the foundations of a legacy.