updated 6 Oct 2012, 09:52
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Tue, Aug 14, 2012
The New Paper
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Feng Tianwei wants a S'pore hubby
by Maureen Koh

She has scaled the heights of Olympic glory. Now she seeks to excel in a different game– the dating one.

The search for a boyfriend has begun for bronze medal-winning star paddler Feng Tianwei.

He must be Singaporean and someone who can speak Mandarin.

Never mind long walks, whispering sweet-nothings, or being sensitive.

Better that he be supportive of Feng in her professional career.

That means he must also be willing to tolerate the likelihood that she may be travelling most of the time.

“It’s difficult,” Feng said in an interview two years ago, “to be in a relationship if you are in a different city (for tournaments) every day.”

But, Feng reckoned then: “It will be good to have someone who can take care of me.”

Money will now be less of a concern: She will pocket $250,000 for her bronze medal in the singles.

She will also split the $375,000 awarded for the team bronze medal with teammates Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu. A portion – 20 per cent – of the winnings will go to the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA).

The seemingly uphill task has been left in the hands of Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, revealed Ms Lee Bee Wah yesterday afternoon.

She was speaking to The New Paper on Sunday at Tampines West Community Club where the Team Singapore paddlers were at the final stop of their victory parade across Singapore.

The STTA president said: “I’ve put the (match-making) project into action.”

“When Acting Minister Chan was in London to support the team, I decided to broach the topic when we were having lunch.

“I told him that I needed a favour and hoped that he could please help... find Tianwei a boyfriend.”

Ms Lee added with another burst of laughter: “I think he was caught off-guard and nearly choked on his food.”

But the good news is, Mr Chan has agreed to help.

Ms Lee said: “He’s going to start looking for someone from the Ministry of Defence.”

And the table tennis chief has shared the good news with Feng.

When we confirmed it with Feng, who turns 26 later this month, she broke into a wide, girlish smile.

She said: “Ah yes, I know. But I feel very much depends on fate.”

Feng agreed, after some prompting, saying: “Yes it’s (about) time.”

She added quickly and shyly: “But I have just finished the competition, so I’ve not given it much thought yet.

“Let’s see what happens next, okay?”

And that is just how Feng is. Always guarded about her private life.

In an interview with Lianhe Zaobao published yesterday, she admitted that she is not quite comfortable about granting interviews.

“I don’t like to discuss my private life. I prefer to keep a low profile,” she revealed.

But ask her about table tennis and Feng would rise to the occasion.

“I didn’t realise that we have so many supporters or that there are so many table tennis lovers.

“Watching the turn-out (at the various stops of the victory parade), I felt really happy. It made me realise that our efforts have not gone unappreciated.”

The most memorable moment for Feng during the Olympics was not when she picked up the individual bronze medal.

She said: “It was when the team won the bronze... that very final day. We had earlier lost to Japan and we were low in spirits, but we managed to bounce back in a very short time.”

It does not matter if the medal is gold, silver or bronze.

“It all means the same to us. As long as we get a medal. Personally for me, it’s the same, too. What matters is that we have worked hard and done our best,” she maintained.

Said deputy women’s head coach Jing Junhong: “I felt it was more important that we saw the team’s indomitable fighting spirit.

“They did not bow to the earlier defeat (to Japan) but bounced back to beat Korea.”

Ms Lee, on the other hand, felt that if “we can maintain this passion in the sport, we will definitely be able to groom more table tennis star players in Singapore”.

For now, Feng will take a short break.

“I will spend more time with my mum, relax a little and unwind,” she said.

“After that, I hope to build up my strength with the other competitions that are coming up.”

What happens four years from now?

“I really don’t dare to predict now. We’d just have to see.”

Perhaps by then, there’ll be someone special in the spectator stands to cheer her on at the Rio Olympics?

She smiled and said: “Maybe. Who knows?”

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