Asian Games: elbow injury may force table tennis medal hope Doo Hoi-kem to choose between individual and team events

Doo Hoi-kem is ready to sacrifice her ambition for personal glory at the upcoming Asian Games if nursing her injuries forces her to choose between events in Hangzhou.

The city’s top women’s player was set to compete in all four events – women’s singles, women’s doubles, mixed doubles and the women’s team. The women’s team have a reputation to maintain, after collecting bronze medals at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as well as medals from the recent World University Games and Asian Championships.

While the 26-year-old’s persistent elbow injury could put the team in jeopardy, Doo says she’s willing to prioritise her teammates.

“Every withdrawal was disappointing to me, I also felt like letting others down [if it’s a team event],” she said.

“The team is always the biggest because my teammates are involved. For sure I’ll always choose the team and doubles events ahead of my individual competition if I have to.”

Doo says she will overcome the injury in the games with mental toughness. Photo: World Table Tennis

With a schedule packed of training and tournaments, Coach Zhang Rui confirmed Doo’s lingering elbow issue had “no cure” given its consistent overuse.

“Even the doctors could not confirm if it’s inflammation or water retention, [so] all we could do is to limit her practice volume,” she said.

“Doo feels the pain with her every move, she didn’t practise much this past two weeks except for some serving and receiving training.

“She is sad obviously because she really wants to play but it’s difficult to say.”

Intent on progressing in the Hangzhou tournament, Doo said that her mental strength will be just as important as her physical skills.

Doo has been dealing with the injury for a year, exacerbated by its consistent overuse. Photo: Xinhua

“I do not know how much of my usual self I can be [on painkillers], I can’t use much strength so there’s no way to gauge,” the world No 32 said.

The women’s team will enter the Hangzhou event already short of the city’s best talent, since Olympic bronze medallist Minnie Soo Wai-yam opted out of the tournament due to a long-term shoulder injury.

“[Soo’s] ability is well recognised by the coaching staff, and she is one of the mainstays, but it is what it is,” Li Ching, the women’s team coach, said.

“That being said, we will not adjust our goals despite the unwanted change in our roster. We will be at a disadvantage, but anything can happen in a match, so we will go for it just like we always did and hope she can return for the Paris Olympics.”

Taking Soo’s place will be Asian Games debutant Lam Yee-lok.

Minnie Soo sits out the Asian Games because of a shoulder injury, to be replaced by Lam Yee-lok. Photo: Handout

“I only had my spot on the team confirmed last night, I’d say this is my most improved year,” the 27-year-old Lam said.

“It’s down to the change in my mindset … previous pressure often restrained my performance and I have the know-how to train smarter now.”

Doo and Lam will be joined by Lee Ho-ching, Zhu Chengzhu and Li Ching-wan in the women’s team, while Wong Chun-ting leads the men’s team which also boasts Ho Kwan-kit, Lam Siu-hang, Ng Pak-nam and Yiu Kwan-to.

The team of 10 players depart on Tuesday to train in Shanghai for a week, before heading south to Hangzhou for the Games. The table tennis events will be held at the Gongshu Canal Sports Park Gymnasium from September 22 to October 2.



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