SINGAPORE: Feng Tianwei will be able to continue participating on the ITTF World Tour circuit with the backing of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), according to a joint statement by the STTA and Sport Singapore (SportSG) on Friday night (Nov 4).
The statement also confirmed that the world no 5 will continue to be considered for selection to represent Singapore in international competitions, under selection policies to be revealed.
This announcement comes 10 days after STTA’s bombshell announcement which dropped 30-year-old Feng from the national squad as part of a new strategic plan that emphasises youth development for the four years leading to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
The STTA had noted that the three-time Olympian will be 34 by the next Olympics, and “does not fit into the STTA's current plans for rejuvenation”.
The decision to axe Feng from the national team had stirred plenty of debate, including reports of alleged misdemeanours that were subsequently denied by all parties.
In an interview with Channel NewsAsia last week, STTA president Ellen Lee had said the association would be willing to facilitate Feng’s future participation in international meets, and this has been confirmed by the latest statement "subject to specific terms and conditions being met by both parties”.
While this now paves the way for Feng to wear the Singapore shirt at professional meets on the ITTF Tour, it remains to be seen whether she will be considered for Team Singapore at upcoming major Games such as the Southeast Asian Games next year and the Asian and Commonwealth Games in 2018 - all meets where she has enjoyed much success in the past.
Feng’s ability to continue competing is vital, as it allows the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) to continue supporting Feng's Sports Excellence Scholarship (spexScholarship) as governed by the High Performance Sports (HPS) Steering Committee.
SSI chief Toh Boon Yi affirmed the fact in the statement, saying: “For the scholarship to continue, it was dependent on the ability for her to continue playing at the highest levels of the sport and be in fair consideration for selection to represent Singapore.”
STTA chief executive officer Wong Hui Leng said in the statement: “We are happy to agree with the HPS Steering Committee to continue supporting Feng Tianwei through the spexScholarship.
“As the National Sport Association, we will continue to work with all stakeholders to develop table tennis in Singapore.”
In a statement, Feng said: “I am happy to have the opportunity to continue representing Singapore, and I thank STTA and the HPS Steering Committee for their support.”