Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lee Wei hoping for a silver lining in her last SEA Games

PETALING JAYA: The SEA Games organisers have surprisingly dropped the team events from the table tennis competitions in Jakarta for the first time but it has not dampened seasoned campaigner Beh Lee Wei’s desire to achieve a sweet swansong.

The 28-year-old Lee Wei is shelving plans for retirement to make her seventh consecutive SEA Games appearance for the country and she is hoping to mark it with a silver lining come November.
With the team events scrapped, the Table Tennis Association of Malaysia (TTAM) are only looking at Lee Wei and Ng Sock Khim, the Korat SEA Games silver medallist in 2007, to shoulder the challenge in the women’s events.

Sock Khim, who missed the previous SEA Games in Laos, went for a back operation recently and is expected to start training next month.

The two male paddlers for the SEA Games are Mohd Shakirin Ibrahim and Chai Kian Beng.
Having won only the bronze medals so far, Lee Wei will be more than happy to have a silver lining in her seventh SEA Games campaign.

“I thought about plans to retire after the Commonwealth Games last year but there are no good players coming up to challenge me and Sock Khim at the moment. I still can play and the country still needs my services for another SEA Games.

“This sport has been my passion and I can’t just say no,” said Lee Wei, who won her 11th national crown last December after prevailing over Sock Khim in the final.
Her decision to go for another fling at the SEA Games is also prompted by a desire to pursue a dream to play in the Olympics.

“I want to try to qualify for the London Olympics through the Asian qualifiers next year,” added Lee Wei, who played a pivotal role in helping Malaysia to finish with three bronze medals in Laos two years ago.
The hunt for medals this time will be limited to the five individual events but Lee Wei felt the better chances lies in the women’s doubles and mixed doubles.
Lee Wei is likely to partner Shakirin for the mixed doubles and she is hoping they can better their bronze medal showing from Laos.

Her hopes of a breakthrough outing is also boosted by news filtering out across the Causeway that world No. 2 Feng Tianwei is the only star in the Singaporean team while the others are second stringers.
This is due to the commitments of the Singapore seniors like Wang Yuegu and Li Jiawei, world No. 7 and No. 20, having to focus on improving their rankings in the world circuit ahead of the Olympics next year.
“Singapore, as usual, are the favourites when it comes to the SEA Games. They won six out of the seven gold medals at the last SEA Games.

“I heard that Singapore are not sending their first team but the ones coming, I’m sure, are not pushovers,” she added.
The last time Malaysia captured gold at the SEA Games was in Manila in 1991 through the women’s doubles pair of Phua Bee Sim-Chong Choi Thing.


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