Beijing. China’s state sports system has come under increasing scrutiny after the women’s table tennis squad was beaten by Singapore in the final of the world team championships in Moscow last weekend.
The loss to a team of Chinese-born players ended 19 years of dominance in the event, providing a further blow to national pride just two weeks after the women’s badminton team was shocked by South Korea in the Uber Cup final.
“China must know that any system, including the state sports system, is not able to guarantee an everlasting dominance,” a China Youth Daily commentary said. “We need many other ways to produce athletes.”
Chinese media also blamed an overreliance on a relatively inexperienced squad of Liu Shiwen, Guo Yan and Ding Ning for the defeat, while sports bloggers criticized a state system that concentrates on less popular sports.
The excessive investment in sports such as badminton and table tennis had produced an overabundance of world-class athletes, whose talent was wasted unless they opted to represent other countries, according to blogger Jin Shan, a former sports journalist. “For the advantages in these sports we spend too much, which are now being used against us … and all of them are funded by the taxpayers,” he said.
In Singapore, the winning team of Feng Tianwei, Wang Yuegu and Sun Bei Bei was welcomed by about 200 supporters on their return to the city-state on Monday.
While the success of Singapore’s Chinese-born team has been met warily by some, others welcomed the players’ decision to represent the city-state.
“People may say they are all from China, but they are Singaporeans now,” businessman Patrick Low told the Today newspaper. “Singapore was made up of immigrants in the past and these new immigrants have done us proud.”