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Responding, seizing the opportunity

Saturday 14 August

A certain tournament and a certain player responds, is that not the situation with China’s Liu Shiwen, her home is the Women’s World Cup, she has won the title on no less than five occasions.

Also, to a lesser extent does the situation apply to Singapore’s Yu Mengyu?

Yu Mengyu raising her level, seizing opportunities

Mention the women’s singles event at the Olympic Games and she responds, or is it a case is seizing a precious opportunity and from the inner self raising everything a precious few notches?

Yu Mengyu, who will mark her 32nd birthday on Wednesday 18th August, has been a regular face on the international stage since 2006, the year in which she left China to join the Singapore Table Tennis Association.

During that time, on the ITTF World Tour, she has reached just three women’s singles final; in 2009 she won in Indore beating Malaysia’s Beh Lee Wei in the final, one year later in New Delhi, she was the runner up, the same fate realised in 2016 in Warsaw.

On both occasions, she experienced defeat at Japanese hands, by the same name but no relation; in the former she lost to Sayaka Hirano, in the latter to Miu Hirano.

Reaching the final of an open international tournament is no mean achievement but when you consider her Olympic Games results, should more finals have come her way?

Time and again, very much the first reserve, the first team selection being Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu, the opportunity arose at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

She reached the quarter-final stage recording wins against Australia’s Jian Fang Lay and Korea Republic’s Jeon Jihee before losing to DPR Korea’s Kim Song I, the eventual bronze medallist.

Fast forward to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, she excelled all expectations, she finished in fourth place; that may be considered the most dreaded place of all but starting play the no.26 seed, it was a massive achievement.

Notably, she accounted for Portugal’s Shao Jieni (no.35 seed), Chinese Taipei’s Chen I-Ching (no.4 seed), Liu Yuan of the United States (no.68 seed) and Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa (no.5 seed), before losing to the champion elect, China’s Chen Meng (no.1 seed).

In the bronze medal match it was defeat at the hands of Japan’s Mima Ito (no.3 seed).

How can we account for such excellent performances?

Is that at the Olympic Games in Beijing (2008) and London (2012), she was not selected and Yu Mengyu seized the opportunity with both arms, or just the event is so special, so very special and players raise their level a few steps?

Editor: Ian Marshall

Photo Credit: ITTF

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