'Strict' rules at training camp in Japan but excitement builds as Singapore table tennis team counts down to Olympics
SINGAPORE: Despite the "strict" rules that come with training and living in a COVID-19 enforced bubble, excitement is building as Singapore's table tennis team began their centralised training in Japan on Tuesday (Jun 29) with the Olympics less than a month away.
A Singapore delegation, including Lin Ye as well as sparring partners and coaches, arrived in Japan on Sunday, before linking up with Osaka-based Feng Tianwei at the team's centralised training camp at Shimada City in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Players Yu Mengyu and Clarence Chew will join the rest in the upcoming days.
Lin, Yu and Feng will represent Singapore in the women's team event, while Feng and Yu will feature in the women's singles. Chew will be the sole representative in the men's singles event.
Lin and Chew will be making their Olympic debuts, while this will be Feng’s fourth Games and the second that Yu will feature in.
READ: No specific medal target for Singapore’s table tennis team at Olympics, but expectations remain ‘high’: STTA
Games debutant Lin said that the team and staff members are not allowed to venture out on their own outside of training. Instead, they are limited to their hotel rooms and training venue.
In addition, daily temperature taking is conducted, along with COVID-19 tests every day.
"The rules here are very strict. We can travel only in a bubble and have limited access to third parties," she said.
"It is not easy but we do understand that it is important to adhere to the COVID-19 measures."
Calling Shimada City a "great host", Lin said she appreciates the hospitality extended by its people.
"In Japan, we have world class sparring partners with different playing style and it is also very important to acclimatise to the weather and humidity," she added.
"We are excited and counting the days to the Tokyo Olympics."
Eddy Tay, who is the Singapore Table Tennis Association's (STTA) senior manager for high performance, noted that the training in Japan will be important for the team as they ramp up preparations.
“This level of training is important because in Singapore we do not have a lot of world class players. So coming here, we have access to all this," he explained.
"We’ll also have some friendly matches with players as sparring partners before we leave for Tokyo Olympics.”
In the previous edition of the Games, Singapore’s women paddlers finished without a medal, the first time in three Olympics that they did so.
Feng finished fourth in the women’s singles in Rio, while the women’s team that comprised Feng, Yu and Zhou Yihan narrowly missed out on a medal after a defeat in the bronze medal match to Japan.
"The time for training is so precious with less than a month left," said Feng. "Of course, we want to win a medal, but there will be many obstacles, we will do our best."
The Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled to start in July last year, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional reporting: Michiyo Ichida
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