Gold for Singapore on golden anniversary
Awarded to Moscow at the Annual General Meeting staged in 2007 in Zagreb, taking in to account all forms of the World Championships, whether individual, team or both together, the Liebherr 2010 World Championships was a landmark.
It was the 50th edition of the event that had first seen the light of the day in 1926; staged in the Olympic Indoor Arena from Sunday 23rd to Sunday 30th May, the tournament was to prove momentous for another reason, one that a decade later remains vivid in the memory.
Against all the odds, Singapore won the women’s team title; thus for only the second team since 1975 in Chiba when the United Korean outfit had prevailed, China did not hold high the prized Corbillon Cup.
As in the Japanese city, they had to settle for runners up spot; they experienced a 3-1 defeat against a trio who had honed their skills in China before moving to the city state, where the opportunities to gain international exposure where far higher.
One wonders if the Singaporean trio that played in the final, Feng Tianwei, Wang Yuegu and Sun Beibei had remained in the country of their birth, would they have ever competed internationally? Would they have gained a place in China’s fourth or fifth team?
Moreover, Singapore won without the services of Li Jiawei, very much the stalwart of the squad and resigned to the bench recovering from injury. Notably two years earlier in Guangzhou, lining up alongside Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu, she had been the one winner, in a 3-1 defeat in the final against the Chinese team comprising Guo Yue, Wang Nan and Zhang Yining. In the opening contest she had beaten Guo Yue.
Was it destiny, more significantly it was their time? Members of the trio were very much at the peak of their careers; Feng Tianwei was 23 years old, Sun Beibei three years older, at 29 years of age Wang Yuegu was the senior member.
Equally was it too soon for Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen; both were only 19 years old at the time, both were playing in their first ever World Team Championships final, both suffered agonies. Ding Ning lost to Feng Tianwei after winning the first two games; Liu Shiwen suffered against both Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu.
Likewise, Guo Yan, 27 years old at the time, was also playing in her first such final; she was to emerge China’s only winner, beating Sun Beibei in the third match.
There was no place for Li Xiaoxia, like Li Jiawei recovering from injury, nor for Guo Yue, who had played in every previous final since making her debut when only 15 years old in 2004 in Qatar.
In Qatar Lu Yuansheng, the women’s coach for the Chinese national team, had explained that the selection of Guo Yue was to provide experience on the big stage. Was the impending London 2012 Olympic Games, just two years hence, in the thoughts of Shi Zhihao when he selected Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen for the final in Moscow?
Whatever the thinking, a golden opportunity begged, the opportunity was seized.
Time and again on the international stage we have seen players representing China win the vital points, their technique is so good that it withstands the most enormous pressure. Equally, when they gain a three point lead, they relax, the technical skills again prevail, they steam to victory.
In Moscow, in particular Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu stuck to Chinese shirt tails like glue, they raised their game a vital 10 per cent, they responded at the crucial times, they never let their adversaries assume command.
Against all the odds, Singapore succeeded, the measure of their win can be witnessed a decade later; in 2012 in Dortmund, China regained the title, ever since that date they have held the Corbillon Cup high.