Based on recent performances, especially in the last two Olympics, Straits Times reporter David Lee’s opinion that the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) should once again use its foreign talent policy to attract players for the national team rings true (foreign talent key to medal hopes, August 4).
However, I think Singapore shouldn’t just focus on foreign talent.
I agree that STTA may have to introduce new foreign talent again in order to compete for medals. Players like Li Jiawei, Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu arguably have the best chances of thwarting the best in the world.
But while foreign talent has managed to achieve fame for Singapore table tennis on the international stage over the past two decades, that doesn’t mean our local talents should be ignored.
For example, Izaac Quek topped the world rankings for boys under 15 earlier this year. In Tokyo, Clarence Chew was the first paddler from the region to qualify for the men’s singles competition at the Olympics and put on a commendable performance against players far higher than himself.
This suggests that local talent is capable of coping and has the potential to compete with higher level opponents. By having such local talent present in the national team, it can encourage more Singaporeans – especially young people – to play the sport and aim to play at the highest level.
Therefore, the integration of foreign and local talents into the core of the national team is a possible solution. The two groups could learn from each other and grow together as one team, en route to representing the nation in major competitions.
Either way, something needs to be done to prevent Singapore’s table tennis standards from falling further and to give us a chance to compete with the best players and countries in the world.
Henry Choong Kun Lin