Miao Miao and Jian Fang Lay won a set in their gold medal match. Photo: James BrickwoodAustralia’s Miao Miao has defended the spread of Chinese-born players to the national teams of other countries after collecting a silver medal in the women’s doubles alongside veteran Jian Lay.
The Australian duo fell 11-5, 8-11, 11-8, 11-5 to Singapore’s Tianwei Feng and Mengyu Yu in Saturday’s gold medal match on the final day of table tennis competition at Glasgow’s Scotstoun Sports Complex
On Friday, the nine-time Australian men’s singles champion William Henzell had criticised Singapore for loading their team with Chinese-born players after crashing out of the Commonwealth Games quarter-finals, arguing it was “not in the spirit of the Games”.
The silver-medal winning Australian women’s doubles pair were both born in China, relocating to Australia in the 1990s, and Miao disagreed with the stance taken by Henzell.
The 33-year-old said the diaspora of Chinese-born players representing other countries was explained by the overwhelming strength of the sport in her nation of origin, and believes they deserved the chance to feature internationally if they could not break into the Chinese team.
“There are lots of good players and not many chances to play at international level, so if they have a chance to play for another country I think it’s good for them,” Miao said. “They’re training so many years and they want to show their results in the competition. So if they have a chance, why not?
“I think maybe some players are not so happy with it. But in China there are millions of people playing table tennis and to be in the Chinese national team, it’s only a few players. Everyone is training so hard, so they should have a chance to present themselves.”
Miao spent four years living in Poland, and played for the Polish national team, before moving to Australia in 1997 and representing her adopted country at four Olympics and now four Commonwealth Games.
Her partner Lay, also in her fourth Commonwealth Games at the age of 41, arrived in 1994, while their Singaporean conquerors on Saturday were also both born in China.
“In Australia and the Oceania countries, less people play table tennis compared to China. In China there are too many, so the competition is very high,” Miao said. “Some people say it’s as hard to win the Chinese national championships as the world championships, which is true.”
Miao and Lay, who had earlier taken bronze in the women’s team event, won the second game in the gold medal playoff but were overpowered in four games.
It was no shame to go down to the Singaporean pairing, though. For Feng, the singles champion here, it was a third gold medal of these Games while for singles silver medallist Yu it was a second gold in Glasgow.
Feng is ranked fifth in the world, and Yu 18th, and they were always going to be the most difficult of assignments for the Australians.
“We are really happy with our result,” Miao said. “The Singapore players are really tough. They are top players in the world, they’ve been training for years and years and they are professional players. They have lots of opportunities to train overseas and compete at the international level which we do not as much.
“We just tried to play our best, and we’re happy with that.”
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