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Thursday, 31 July 2014 | MYT 10:17 PM

Veteran paddler Lee Wei still has the fighting spirit (updated)

Beh Lee Wei in action against New Zealand’s Li Chunli during the women’s singles third round at the Scotstoun Sports Campus on Thursday. — GLENN GUAN / The Star

Beh Lee Wei in action against New Zealand’s Li Chunli during the women’s singles third round at the Scotstoun Sports Campus on Thursday. — GLENN GUAN / The Star

GLASGOW: Perhaps the national men’s hockey team could learn a thing or two from veteran paddler Beh Lee Wei.

She is already 31, the mother of a child and definitely a lot heavier, but one thing remains in her DNA – fighting spirit.

The 10th-seeded Malaysian showed her never-say-die attitude once again when she came back from the jaws of defeat to upset seventh seed Li Chunli of New Zealand 11-9, 8-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 12-10 in 54 minutes in the third round of the women’s singles event at the Scotstoun Sports Campus on Thursday.

Having taken a 3-2 lead after five sets, all she needed was to win the sixth to seal victory.

And the Kedahan started the sixth set extremely well by taking a comfortable 8-2 lead. But Chunli had other ideas and fought back to win it 12-10 and take the match to a seventh and deciding set.

This was when Lee Wei showed that she is made of sterner stuff when she staged a magnificent fightback from 5-9 down to level the score at 9-9, and then 10-10 to force deuce.

She then kept her cool amidst the rising tension to collect the two crucial points for victory – and advance to the quarter-finals.

Lee Wei, who is featuring in her fourth and last Commonwealth Games, was thrilled to bits with her win Thursday.

“I could have beaten her (Chunli) in the sixth set and seal the game as I was leading 8-2. But I don’t know what happened to me … I just lost focus and allowed her to collect nine straight points to level the score at 3-3,” said Lee Wei.

“I made far too many errors and nearly paid the price. I continued making errors in the final set as well and even trailed 5-9 … the Kiwi player looked confident of beating me.

“But I never gave up … I fought my way back to force deuce.

“The pressure was on her as she is seeded higher than me … I’m glad I created an upset,” added Lee Wei, who faces an even sterner test next as she will be up against top seed Feng Tianwei of Singapore in the quarter-finals.

The Malaysian veteran later proved that she is indeed a real tough cookie.

Hardly one-and-a-half-hours after upsetting Chunli, she was back on court, this time partnering Ng Sock Khim in the women’s doubles.

The Malaysian pair needed just 15 minutes to dispose of Cecilia Akpan-Olufunke Oshonaike of Nigeria 11-8, 11-8, 11-4 in the second round.

Lee Wei-Sock Khim, who received a first-round bye, will face India’s Ankita Das-Poulomi Ghatak in the third round.

Lee Wei, who was in Hebei, China, recently for a one-month training stint, said she had no qualms playing back to back matches with little rest.

“I’m not complaining … this is common in table tennis. I just want to give my best as this is my last Commonwealth Games. I want to go out with a bang,” she said with a smile.

Meanwhile, the petite Sock Khim has withdrawn from the women’s singles competition to focus on the doubles.

The 31-year-old Kedahan, who was the quarter-finalist in the singles event in the 2010 New Delhi Games, was down to face Kelly Sibley of England in the first round.

But national coach Soong Poh Wah advised her to pull out so as not to aggravate her right knee injury.

“We don’t want her to put too pressure on her knee as she has not fully recovered from the surgery she underwent last year,” said Poh Wah.

“She has undergone four knee surgeries in five years and even defied the doctor’s order to play in the Commonwealth Games.

“We salute her for her courage and commitment … but we must also think of her well-being.

“It is quite hectic for her to play in four events – team, singles, doubles and mixed doubles. So, we asked to pull out from the singles and concentrate on the doubles, where we have a better chance of winning a medal.”

Tags / Keywords: Commonwealth Games , Glasgow , table tennis , Beh Lee Wei


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