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Singapore clean up on the tables

Singapore topped the medals table after Monday’s conclusion of the 16th SEA Junior Table Tennis Championship held at the indoor hall of Olympic Stadium.

Photo by: Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com)
Vietnam’s Nguyen Huu Duc (left) serves against Singapore’s Pang Sue Jie during their SEA Junior Table Tennis Championship U18 boys final at Olympic Stadium’s indoor hall.

Singapore dominated the medals count at the 16th SEA Junior Table Tennis Championship, which concluded Monday at the Indoor sports hall of Olympic Stadium.

The city state won six gold medals, two silvers and seven bronzes at the five-day tournament, while Thailand clinched second with three golds, five silvers and four bronzes. Vietnam finished third with two golds, one silver and three bronzes.

Hosts Cambodia sadly failed to make the podium on a single occasion, with Brunei and Laos also returning home empty-handed.

In Monday’s finals, Singaporean Pang Sue Jie defeated Vietnam’s Nguyen Huu Duc by four sets to one in the boys U18 category. Pang had earlier won a goal medal in the boys double when he partnered Lim Jie Yang to defeat the Indonesian pair of Julius Duri Chayokusumo and Rocky Christofel Eman

Singapore’s Ly Slyun Isabelle triumphed in the girls U18 category in similar 4-1 fashion, defeating Thailand’s Suthsini Sawettabut. Ly, U15 champion at the 2007 SEA Games, also clinched two further golds and a silver in girls double, mixed doubles and girls team respectively.

In the boys U15 event, Thailand fielded some promising young talents to swoop two golds and three silvers. Fourteen-year-old Padasak Tanviriyacech was simply too strong for compatriot Suchat Pitakgusiri, 15, in an all-Thai finals, winning 4-2.

In the girls U15 final, Vietnam’s Nguyen Hong Tam rolled over Thailand’s Plya Porn Pannak 4-2 to claim the gold medal.

Despite Singapore’s prominence in the individual events, it was Vietnam that took home the gold medal in the boys’ team event, beating Indonesia three sets to two in the final. Singapore girls, however, maintained their stronghold to emerge victorious from their team event round robin format.

Double gold medal winner Pang Sue Jie was delighted with his success at this year’s championships after falling out in the group stage of the U15 competition at the 2007 event. “I am very excited,” he said Monday. “I trained hard and set a goal to win gold in this championship, and I have realised my dream.” Pang went on to dedicate his success to his teammates for their overwhelming support during the epic finals.

Compatriot Ly Slyun Isabelle, meanwhile, has set her sights now on the upcoming Youth Olympic Games, which will be held in Singapore on August 14-26. “I am very excited for this victory,” the 16-year-old said. “Now I can look forward to the Youth Olympic Games and hope to win more medals again.”

While Cambodia’s campaign ended without a medal once again, they can lift their heads high as competent hosts of the regional event, with Table Tennis Federation Secretary General Sun Sothearith, who also doubled as the tournament director, left satisfied after the closing ceremony Monday.

“I am so happy we have been able to host this championship, and it was a great success,” he said. “Though our players did not win any medals, we have learned a lot from hosting this championship, and our players have gotten more experience.”

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