Home > News and Publications > Archive > APR21 > Izaac, Lin Qian Among World’s Best U15 Paddlers

Izaac, Lin Qian Among World’s Best U15 Paddlers

ITTF U15 World Ranking

On 13 April 2021, 14-year-old Izaac Quek Yong entered the record books when he became the first Singaporean paddler to rank World No. 1 among players in the Under 15 age-group.

The ranking by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), which is refreshed weekly, saw Izaac at the top of the list after Chen Yuanyu (China) and Darius Movileanu (Romania) surpassed the age ceiling. Just before the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the competition calendar in 2020, the Singapore Sports School Secondary 3 student-athlete secured his first international win at the Swedish Junior and Cadet Circuit, an ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament. Izaac, then 13, defeated Simeon Martin of Canada in the Cadet Boys Singles final to earn a boost in his ranking. Izaac leads the U15 list with 7,394 points, 55 points ahead of Japanese Sora Matsushima.

“I’m delighted to see my hard work for the past few years pay off through attaining this milestone, which is a goal I had set for myself. Whilst I feel very elated, I also have to remind myself not to be complacent and to continue to work hard and attain even better results in competition,” said Izaac who turns 15 at the end of May.

As a budding paddler in primary school, Izaac came to learn about the Sports School through his seniors and Table Tennis Academy General Manager Dave Lai. He heard about how “the holistic programme offered is very ‘athlete-friendly’, and whilst the focus is to develop high performance athlete, the School also offers a very comprehensive academic curriculum that suits the heavy training and travelling schedule of its student-athletes. This is especially important for the Table Tennis players as we travel overseas for training and competition regularly.”

Izaac, who is now in the Singapore Table Tennis Association’s Intermediate Squad meant for eligible players 16 years and older, credits this athlete-friendly support that he now receives for allowing him to “excel not only in sports, but receive quality education at the same time.” The national youth paddler was inducted to the Intermediate Squad at 14 years old in January 2020.

His next major target is in November this year where he will make his debut at either the 4th Asian Youth Games in Shantou, China, or the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam. His preparation for the Games began last year under the guidance of national coaches Gao Ning and Zhang Zhen.

“Apart from the technical and tactical skills, I have also been spending much time on strength and conditioning, and physical training. We are now in the final stages of brushing up my skills and I am all ready to take up the challenge in either of the tournaments. The real focus now is to keep myself injury-free and also maintain a positive mental state till the competition.”

Another milestone was also accomplished in the Girls U15 ranking as Ser Lin Qian rose to 3rd. This is the highest rank by a Singaporean female in the age-group.

“I’m very heartened and happy about my ranking, and also very honoured to be the highest-ranked Singaporean girl in the U15 to date. It’s exciting to know how far I’ve come, yet there is still huge room for improvement and much more I can learn from other players,” said Lin Qian. “This news is definitely motivation for me to work even harder and maintain the ranking.”

Even though the competition calendar still remains uncertain for paddlers, Lin Qian remains positive at training. She continues to work hard on improving her technique to incorporate more speed, spin and power in her shots, better ball placement, and also become stronger mentally. “I’m unable to travel overseas to compete at the moment, but what I can do now is to keep pushing myself during training and hopefully play well in the next competition.” The Secondary 3 student-athlete, who turned 15 years old on 1 May, hopes to compete at the Olympic Games one day.

Sports School’s table tennis players have reached new highs in recent years. In 2019, Koen Pang Yew En was also the first Singaporean to attain the World No. 1 status in ITTF’s U18 ranking. Later the same year, the alumnus was also the first Singapore-born player to win the Men’s Singles gold at the Philippines Southeast Asian Games. More recently, despite the competition lull brought about by the pandemic, post-secondary student-athlete Clarence Chew Zhe Yu (Extended DSLM) once again created history when he qualified for Tokyo Olympics, the first Singapore-born paddler to do so.