- Zhang, Ding out to defend World titles in Paris
- Jun Hoong-Wendy continue fine form with bronze in 3m springboard
- Peng Soon says he’s physically and mentally ready for the Sudirman Cup
Posted: 13 May 2013 06:34 PM PDT
PARIS: Defending champion Zhang Jike of China says he is relishing his return to Paris this week as he aims to retain his title won two years ago in Rotterdam at the world table tennis championships.
Zhang defeated compatriot Wang Hao in the 2011 final before triumphing over the same opponent later that year in the French capital for his maiden World Cup victory.
The 25-year-old then added the Olympic title to his collection at London 2012 to complete a career Grand Slam and is eagerly anticipating taking to the Bercy arena to defend his world championship crown.
"I am feeling no pressure now and I have been well prepared. I can't wait for my first match," said Zhang.
"I won my first World Cup two years ago here, so I think Paris is my lucky place," he added.
Zhang enters the week-long tournament as the fourth seed following a string of inconsistent displays but downplayed its significance, insisting: "The important thing is to win the match, not the ranking. The top players in the world will be revealed anyway."
Compatriot Xu Xin, a potential semi-final opponent for Zhang, is the No.1 seed after regaining the world's top ranking from compatriot Ma Long last month, but he too sought to minimise its importance.
"The world ranking is just about placements, it is not enough to give you good results; so I still adopt a lower profile and have a positive attitude to fight," explained Xu, one of 23 players in the China squad that will be seeking to complete another clean sweep in all five events.
German duo Timo Boll and Dimitrij Ovtcharov will headline the list of contenders seeking to challenge Chinese supremacy.
Women's title-holder Ding Ning says defeat to Li Xiaoxia in last summer's Olympic final is her greatest motivator as she seeks to banish those painful memories from London.
"(It's) equally a burden as it is a motivation. It's motivation to do a better job," said Ding, who's been at the top of the women's rankings since November 2011.
The 22-year-old, however, has been slowed by a knee problem this term.
"I first had the injury during the Squad Trials in Chengdu," she revealed.
"It is an old injury. In order to avoid any impact in the forthcoming World Championships, it needs to be protected," Ding added, possibly exposing a weakness upon which her rivals may seek to capitalise.
Liu Shiwen and London 2012 champion Li occupy the second and third seeds respectively, while Feng Tianwei of Singapore is the highest non-Chinese entrant at four.-AFP
Posted: 13 May 2013 04:56 PM PDT
PETALING JAYA: It looks like Malaysia may not have to rely on just Pandelela Rinong-Leong Mun Yee to fly the flag high at the major meets from now on.
The fast-improving women's 3m springboard pairing of Cheong Jun Hoong-Wendy Ng Yan Yee are proving to be worthy contenders as well.
Jun Hoong-Wendy bagged a bronze in the 3m springboard on the final day of the FINA United States Diving Grand Prix in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday.
It was their third medal in as many competitions – and their first at the Grand Prix level.
The duo had also claimed bronze in the prestigious Diving World Series legs of Edinburgh and Moscow last month.
Jun Hoong-Wendy chalked up 282.90 points to finish third behind China's Zhang Jun-Qu Lin (311.40) and Ukraine's Anna Pymenska-Olena Fedorova (293.70).
A total of nine pairs competed and the Malaysian duo had their work cut out for them.
There was no sign of a medal at one stage – when they were placed a lowly seventh after the third round.
Jun Hoong-Wendy, however, found themselves in medal contention by the end of the fourth attempt – a superb dive of 71.10 points enabled them to climb up four rungs to third.
But they could only garner 61.20 in the final dive.
Fortunately, their closest rivals – Italy's Tania Cagnotto-Francesca Dallape, who finished fourth in last year's Olympics, and Japan's Sayaka Shibusawa-Mai Nakagawa – also flopped in their final attempts.
Jun Hoong-Wendy's good run on the international stage has prompted head coach Yang Zhuliang to rethink his plans.
Zhuliang had earlier wanted London Olympics bronze medallist Pandelela to do triple duty at the World Championships in Barcelona in July.
He was planning to pair up Pandelela, who will already assume a double role in the platform discipline – with her London Olympics partner Jun Hoong once more for the women's 3m springboard synchro at the world meet.
The move was aimed at boosting Malaysia chances of winning a medal at the world meet.
But Wendy has proven that she is not the weak link in the partnership.
"Their performances will certainly help raise their profiles in the international scene. They can do well at the world meet ... we're hoping for a top-six finish at least as that will help the country earn a place in the Diving World Series next year," said Zhuliang.
Pandelela-Mun Yee took silver in the women's 10m platform synchro on Saturday. The divers will now head for Guadalajara, Mexico, for the fifth leg of the Diving World Series this weekend.
Posted: 13 May 2013 04:57 PM PDT
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's preparation for the Sudirman Cup is back on track after mixed doubles shuttler Chan Peng Soon declared that he is "physically and mentally ready" for the challenge.
Yesterday, a more relaxed Peng Soon said that he's ready to get going with partner Goh Liu Ying in the world mixed team event from May 19-26 at Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Peng Soon had been suffering from a hamstring injury since the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold here last week and the coaches were even looking at pairing up Liu Ying with other shuttlers.
Now that Peng Soon-Liu Ying are back together again, they will be counted on to play a crucial role in helping Malaysia achieve a top-four finish in the Sudirman Cup.
With Malaysia having more depth in the men's department compared to the women's, the outcome in the mixed doubles could make or break the team's chances.
The other mixed pair in the team are Ong Jian Guo-Lim Yin Loo.
The men's players are Lee Chong Wei, Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem. The women shuttlers comprise Sonia Cheah, Tee Jing Yi, Lydia Cheah, Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean and Liu Ying-Yin Loo.
Peng Soon is happy to be back on his feet again.
"I'm glad that the injury is not serious. I have received treatment and I'm now able to play more comfortably. I'll go into the Sudirman Cup with a positive mindset," said Peng Soon during a gym workout at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara yesterday.
Liu Ying was also relieved to learn that her partner will be playing aftear all.
"I'm ready whenever Peng Soon is. I'm glad we can now focus on doing well at home," she said.
National coach Jeremy Gan is aware that Peng Soon-Liu Ying won't have it easy as all the participating countries will be represented by their strongest pairs.
"Unlike other events, most of the countries have at least one strong and established mixed pair. Germany and Taiwan are in our group (Group C) and they too have quite solid pairs. Peng Soon-Liu Ying cannot afford to take it easy," said Jeremy.
"They are our best pair ... I hope they will take this opportunity as a positive challenge. They've done well on home ground and that should be good enough motivation for them."
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