Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei will go down in table tennis history after becoming the Games’ most successful player after striking gold in the women’s double.
The pairing of Feng and Zeng Jian beat Australian duo of Lay Jian Fang and Jee Min-hyung 3-0 (11-1, 11-8, 11-8) to clinch the gold at the National Exhibition Stadium. The medal on the final day of the Games sees Feng’s campaign at the Commonwealth Games 2022 finishing with a clean sweep.
Already holding the mantle as Singapore’s decorated Olympian, Feng is no stranger to writing her name again and again in the island republic’s sporting history book. Along with teammates Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu, the triumvirate ended Singapore’s 48-year Olympic medal drought with a historic silver medal win at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Feng won her first Commonwealth gold back in Delhi 2010 and her latest gold collection sees her Commonwealth Games tally weighing in at a whopping 13 medals with nine golds, three silvers, and one bronze – winning her the David Dixon Award.
The award was inaugurated in 2002 to honour the memory of long-time Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) secretary David Dixon and presented “to the outstanding athlete of the Games based on their sporting performance at the Games, demonstration of fair play and overall contribution to their teams performance”.
CGF President Dame Louise Martin made the presentation at the Birmingham 2022 Closing Ceremony.
“I am delighted to announce that tonight’s winner is Singapore’s most decorated Commonwealth athlete. At these Games, not only had she had to live up to expectations but also lead. As team captain, she brings experience and stability to younger, up-and-coming athletes. She is highly respected by all her fans and peers,” Dame Louise said.
But as with all good stories, some careers have to come to an end.
In an interview with The Straits Times, Feng said, “I feel my career is quite complete after this campaign”.
“For so many years, my life has revolved around table tennis such that it has become my life because I’m so focused on it. It is a natural end to a playing career. It is different from giving up, which I have never thought about, because I love table tennis so much,” she said.
Before the pair teamed up, it was a tear-jerking moment for Feng on her road to history.
The day before, as the Singapore flag was raised to Majulah Singapura, the table tennis veteran stepped atop the podium, struggling to hold back her tears.
Feng faced off in an all Singaporean final for the women’s singles against compatriot Zeng, coming behind from three sets to win the gold 4-3 (6-11, 5-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-8, 11-5).
In another interview with The Straits Times, Silver-medallist Zeng paid tribute to her team mate, showing how much of an impact she has made in Singapore sports.
“Tianwei showed just why she deserves respect for the player she is and the career she has had. Her fighting spirit is something younger players like us can all learn from,” said Zeng.
While Feng has yet to officially announce her retirement, there is some hope that she will be participating in the 2022 World Team Table Tennis Championships Finals which is held in Chengdu, China from 30 Sep to 9 Oct.
Regardless, the scenes of love and joyous tears captured in Birmingham 2022 will be added to the collection of what is undoubtedly the career of a Singaporean icon.
Singapore clinched historic badminton mixed doubles gold
Also at the National Exhibition Centre, it was a historical evening for another Singaporean duo as they too collected gold for the Republic
The husband-wife pairing of Terry Hee and Jessica Tan won gold in the badminton mixed doubles pair. The shuttler couple beat English counterparts Marcus Ellis and Lauren Smith 21-16, 21-15, bagging first badminton gold since 2002.
Hee and Tan went into the finals as the underdogs, being ranked 35th to their opponents 10th and who were also playing on home soil. But the Singapore couple was unfazed, having beaten Malaysia’s top-seeded pairing of Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing in the semi-finals to seal the deal.
Also in badminton, Singapore’s Yeo Jia Min clinched bronze for Singapore in the women’s singles at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The world number 19 bested the world number 17 in Scotland’s Kirsty Gilmour in a spirited battle that ended 21-14, 22-20.
The exhilarating final two days of competitions in Birmingham saw the contributions from badminton and table tennis end Singapore’s campaign with a total of 12 medals, split evenly between the gold, silver, and bronze.