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SEA Games 2023: Koen Pang, Izaac Quek lift table tennis team with men's doubles gold

They held their nerves to beat Malaysian rivals in final, after their Singapore teammates fall in women's, mixed doubles finals

Singapore paddlers Izaac Quek (left) and Koen Pang in action in the men's doubles final at the 2023 SEA Games. (PHOTO: SNOC/Eng Chin An)
Singapore paddlers Izaac Quek (left) and Koen Pang in action in the men's doubles final at the 2023 SEA Games. (PHOTO: SNOC/Eng Chin An)

SINGAPORE — Three doubles finals, three chances for Singapore's paddlers to clinch gold. But after they lost out of the first two finals, it was left to the two youngest members of the men's squad to finally capture the SEA Games gold on Sunday (14 May).

Koen Pang, 21, and Izaac Quek, 16, held their nerves at the Morodok Techo Table Tennis Hall in Phnom Penh to defeat Malaysia's Javen Choong and Wong Qi Shen 11-3, 8-11, 11-8, 11-3 in the men's doubles final.

Amid the see-saw battle midway through the match, Pang and Quek kept their cool to capture the key points in the third set, and then went for the kill in the fourth to seal Singapore's second table tennis gold medal at the Games after the men's team triumph on Thursday.

It also matched the city-state's two-gold haul at last year's Hanoi SEA Games, won in the men's and mixed doubles.

The men's doubles final victory lifted the mood amid the Singapore contingent, after defeats in the women's and mixed doubles finals earlier in the day.

Clarence Chew and Zeng Jian went down 11-13, 8-11, 11-8, 12-14 to Vietnam's Mai Ngoc Tran and Anh Hoang Dinh in the mixed doubles final to settle for silver.

In the women's doubles final, Zhou Jingyi and Wong Xing Ru were no match for Thailand's Orawan Paranang and Suthasini Sawettabut, the young Singapore duo succumbing straight sets, 4-11, 13-15, 7-11.

Singapore water polo player Koh Jian Ying attempts a shot during their 12-5 win over Indonesia at the 2023 SEA Games. (PHOTO: SNOC/Lim Weixiang)
Singapore water polo player Koh Jian Ying attempts a shot during their 12-5 win over Indonesia at the 2023 SEA Games. (PHOTO: SNOC/Lim Weixiang)

Singapore takes big step to regain men's water polo gold

At the National Olympic Stadium Swimming Centre, the Singapore men's water polo team took a giant step towards regaining the gold medal they lost in 2019 after a 54-year grip.

They defeated Indonesia 12-5, and exacted a revenge of sorts against the team whom they shockingly lost to at the 2019 Games, their first-ever loss in the history of the event.

This time around, Singapore relied on their stellar defence and goalkeeper Lee Kai Yang's heroics to clamp down the Indonesians, who had taken a 3-2 lead after the first quarter.

A 2-0 second quarter turned things around for Singapore, and they seized control of the last two quarters, outscoring Indonesia 8-2 amid the loud cheers from the strong Team Nila sports-volunteer contingent.

This is Singapore's third straight victory at the men's water polo competition, after they beat Thailand 12-7 and Malaysia 14-1 in earlier matches.

They will next face the Philippines, before finishing their campaign against Cambodia. Another victory would virtually seal the gold medal which they had worked so hard to regain after their 2019 slip.

Singapore Team Nila sports volunteers turning out in support of the water polo team at the 2023 SEA Games. (PHOTO: SNOC/Lim Weixiang)
Singapore Team Nila sports volunteers turning out in support of the water polo team at the 2023 SEA Games. (PHOTO: SNOC/Lim Weixiang)

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