'Table tennis medal shows transformation of HK team' - RTHK
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'Table tennis medal shows transformation of HK team'

2021-08-06 HKT 11:24
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  • 'Table tennis medal shows transformation of HK team'
The chairman of the Hong Kong Table Tennis Association, Tony Yue, says an historic bronze won by the women’s team in the Tokyo Games has shown their transformation from relying on athletes from the mainland, to producing home-grown paddlers.

The women's team of Minnie Soo, Doo Hoi-kem and Lee Ho-ching beat the German team 3-1 in the bronze medal match on Thursday, despite being seen as the underdogs before the match.

It was Hong Kong's second Olympic table tennis medal after Li Ching and Ko Lai-chak – both originally from the mainland – claimed silver in the men's doubles in 2004.

Yue told an RTHK programme on Friday that the latest medal was very important, as it reaffirms their belief that there's potential for Hong Kong players to excel, and also serves as an encouragement to young people.

"Table tennis is very popular, but it’s not easy to be outstanding. It's easy to learn but difficult to master. That's why we need a lot of athletes to take part," Yue said.

"The three players’ victory shows our 20 years of transformation, from having mainland athletes representing Hong Kong, to home-grown paddlers achieving good results."

His view was echoed by Li, who's now the coach of the women's team.

Speaking to RTHK from Tokyo, he said the result was unexpected and praised the exceptional performance of Soo, saying she had "rebounded" and managed to "strike back".

Li has become a popular figure on social media thanks to his funny and at times seemingly blunt advice to the team during the Games.

He was caught swearing on camera when he told Doo off during a match, and said the players should watch more scary movies to help them get tougher.

When asked who he’d like to thank after the team won, Li said he thanked himself the most because of the effort he put in.

He conceded on Friday that his communication with the players was “direct”.

"We may have disagreement over the skills, but it's limited to skills only... I personally think if a coach recognises an athlete, it means he or she has the potential. But it doesn't mean the coach should tolerate mistakes,” said Li.

"Being strict to the athletes is what a responsible coach should do. It also demonstrates my true heart. Although she may be unhappy temporarily, in the end though, she now receives much stronger happiness."