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Olympic Games: Yu Mengyu seizing opportunities

Wednesday 23 June

A debut in the Olympic Games in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, the name of Yu Mengyu appears on the Tokyo 2020 entry list, proceedings commencing on Saturday 24th July.

Yu Mengyu impressive in Rio and Doha

Most significantly, for a player who throughout a great part of her career in Singapore has been resigned to the bench or has been the faithful reserve, alongside the celebrated Feng Tianwei, she appears in the women’s singles event.

In 2009 on the ITTF World Tour, she won the women’s singles title at the Indian Open in Indore, she beat Malaysia’s Beh Lee Wei in the final. Now surely, such a performance would command a place in the national team.

At the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, quite understandably the Singaporean selection was Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu, the trio broke new ground by securing women’s team silver.

Four years later in London, the same selection claimed bronze, again Yu Mengyu was the support act. Sandwiched in between, in the final of the women’s event at the Liebherr 2010 World Team Championships in Moscow, Li Jiawei recovering from giving birth, Sun Beibei was the player selected to join Feng Tianwei and Wang Yuegu.

Thus, when a chance arose, for Yu Mengyu it was necessary to grab the opportunity with both hands; in Rio de Janeiro, to her great credit, she responded. Feng Tianwei, the leading light, progressed to the quarter-finals, losing to Japan’s Ai Fukuhara (14-12, 11-8, 11-7, 11-5); Yu Mengyu did exactly the same.

Commencing play in the third round, she accounted for Australia’s Jian Fang Lay (11-9, 11-9, 11-6, 12-10) and Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee (12-10, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-2), prior to experiencing defeat at the hands of DPR Korea’s Kim Song I (11-8, 6-11, 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6).

Later in the women’s team event, Jeon Jihee extracted revenge (11-8, 11-4, 4-11, 10-12, 11-7); earlier in the opening round, Yu Mengyu having beaten Egypt’s Dina Meshref (11-3, 11-6, 11-6).

Overall, a most satisfactory adventure in the Brazilian city; two quarter-final finishes was no mean performance.

Equally, earlier this year in late February and early March, Yu Mengyu was in impressive form at the WTT Contender tournament in Doha.

Required to qualify, she beat Germany’s Chantal Mantz (11-7, 11-7, 11-5), Egypt’s Farah Abdel-Aziz (11-7, 11-8, 11-5) and Chinese Taipei’s Liu Hsing-Yin (11-5, 12-10, 11-9) to reserve her place in the main draw where the good form continued.

She overcame colleague Zeng Jian (14-12, 11-9, 11-6), before causing a major upset; she overcame Japan’s Miu Hirano, the no.4 seed (11-4, 6-11, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10) and thus reversed the result of the 2016 women’s singles final at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Polish Open. On that occasion Yu Mengyu had experienced defeat in four straight games (12-10, 11-9, 12-10, 11-7).

A place in the last eight booked, Yu Mengyu ended the progress of Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut (12-10, 11-6, 11-2), before losing to Japan’s Mima Ito, the top seed and champion elect (11-13, 11-7, 11-9, 11-5, 13-11).

Imposing in Doha, in Tokyo one round further than in Rio?

Editor: Ian Marshall

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