Wang Yuegu (Chinese: 王越古; pinyin: Wáng Yuègǔ, pronounced [wǎŋ ɥêkù]; born 10 June 1980) is a China-born Singaporean table tennis player who is ranked among the top ten players in the world. Wang made her inaugural appearance as a Singaporean on the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Pro Tour in June 2005 at the Volkswagen Korean Open in Suncheon,South Korea, where she and Sun Beibei took the silver medal in the women's doubles. On 24 September 2006, Wang achieved her first gold medal on the Pro Tour at the Japan Open inYokohama. She repeated the feat against her compatriot Li Jiawei on 12 November at the ITTF Pro Tour German Open in Bayreuth. In June 2007, Wang helped Singapore sweep the women's team, women's doubles and mixed doubles gold trophies at the 17th Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in Jaipur.
Representing Singapore for the first time at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, she was a member of the silver medal-winning women's table tennis team. This was the first time that Singapore had won an Olympic medal since Singapore's independence in 1965. The medal came 48 years after Tan Howe Liang won the country's first and only medal to date, a silver in weightlifting at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. In May 2010 the trio of Wang, Feng Tianwei and Sun stunned the reigning champion China 3–1 in the Liebherr World Team Table Tennis Championships in Moscow, making Singapore world champion for the first time.
Wang won the women's team bronze medal with Feng and Li at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She announced her retirement from competitive sports in August 2012.
Wang Yuegu was born on 10 June 1980 in Anshan, Liaoning, People's Republic of China. In December 2004 she relocated to Singapore under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme as this offered her more opportunities to prove herself at the international level. She subsequently became a Singapore citizen.
Wang made her inaugural appearance as a Singaporean on the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Pro Tour in June 2005 at the Volkswagen Korean Open in Suncheon, South Korea, where she and Sun Beibei took the silver medal in the women's doubles. Later that year, she and Sun went on to take two more silvers in doubles matches at the Chinese Taipei Open and Volkswagen (China) Open.
In 2006, Wang came third in the women's singles at the ITTF Pro Tour Chinese Taipei Open held in Taipei, bettering that effort by taking the singles silver medal at the subsequent ITTF Pro Tour Korea Open. On 24 September, Wang achieved her first gold medal on the Pro Tour at the Japan Open in Yokohama, beating China's Guo Yan who was then the number one seed and ranked third in the world. The achievement brought her into the top ten of the women's world ranking list for the first time in her career. Wang repeated her gold-winning feat against compatriot Li Jiawei on 12 November at the ITTF Pro Tour German Open in Bayreuth. In June 2007, Wang helped Singapore sweep the women's team, women's doubles and mixed doubles gold trophies at the 17th Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in Jaipur. On 20 April 2008, top-seeded Wang beat Li again to the women's singles title at the Brazilian Open. As a singles player, she was ranked seventh in the world as of August 2008.
2008 Summer OlympicsEdit
Wang represented Singapore for the first time at the 2008 Summer Olympics in the women's table tennis team tournament with her teammates Feng Tianwei and Li Jiawei. On 14 August the team defeated the Netherlands 3–0 to reach the semifinals, but not before a gruelling five-game doubles match against the Dutch players Li Jie and Elena Timina which Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu eventually won 3–2.[ During the semifinals against South Korea's Dang Ye-Seo,Kim Kyung-Ah and Park Mi-Young on 15 August, Wang and Li beat Kim and Park in the doubles match, but Wang lost her singles match to Dang. Singapore eventually triumphed over South Korea 3–2.
On 17 August, Wang and her teammates gained Singapore a silver medal in women's table tennis after losing to China in three matches. In the doubles match, Wang and Li were bested by China's Zhang Yining and Guo Yue. This is the first time Singapore has won an Olympic medal since Singapore's independence in 1965. The medal comes 48 years after Tan Howe Liang won the country's first medal, a silver in weightlifting in the lightweight category at the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome.
Wang and her teammates received byes into the third round of the singles tournament. However, Wang's Olympics came to an end after she was defeated 1–4 by the Dominican Republic's Wu Xue. Seeded fifth in the tournament, Wang was expected to overcome Wu, ranked 50th in the world by the ITTF, without difficulty but made numerous unforced errors. She had beaten Wu at all previous encounters. Team manager Antony Lee attributed Wang's loss to the fact that Wu had played above her usual standard, and that Wang had been unable to cope with the spin from Wu's left-handed serves.
At a victory celebration in Singapore on 25 August, Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, announced that Wang, Feng and Li would be presented with the Pingat Jasa Gemilang (Meritorious Service Medal). This is only the third time the medal will be awarded to athletes, the two previous recipients being weightlifter Tan Howe Liang (1962) and swimmer Joscelin Yeo (2006).
In May 2009, the national table tennis women's team, composed of Wang and her teammates Feng, Li and Sun Beibei, were awarded the Team of the Year (Event) prize at the Singapore Sports Awards.
On 22 November 2008, despite crashing out of the singles event earlier, Wang and her teammates Feng and Li won the top title and US$8,000 at the ITTF Pro Tour ERKE German Open in Berlin. In an all-Singapore singles final at the Polish Open in Warsaw on 30 November, Wang took silver against Feng who achieved her first professional singles title. She was fifth in Today newspaper's list of athletes of the year for 2008.
On 24 May 2009, Wang and Yang Zi beat Gao Ning and Sun Beibei to the mixed doubles gold in an all-Singaporean final at the 18th Commonwealth Table Tennis Championships in Glasgow. The next day, Wang also took the singles title from her teammate Yu Mengyu.
Wang participated in the 25th Southeast Asian Games in Vientiane, Laos. She was a member of the Singapore women's team with Feng Tianwei and Sun Beibei that beat Thailand 3–0 on 10 December 2009. On 13 December, she and her partner Yang defeated compatriots Feng and Gao in an all-Singapore final in the mixed doubles. The following day, in another all-Singapore encounter, she and her partner Feng were beaten by Sun Beibei and Yu Mengyu in the women's doubles. The following day, she picked up another silver in the singles competition after battling Feng.
Together with Feng and Sun, Wang was a member of the team at the Liebherr World Team Table Tennis Championships in Moscow that defeated China, 17-time winner and the reigning world champion, with a score of 3–1 on 30 May 2010. This was the first time that Singapore had won the event. In the game she played, Wang beat world number one Liu Shiwen. The Southern Daily published in Guangdong criticized Chinese sports authorities for permitting China-born players like Wang, Feng and Li to leave and play for other countries: "For the sake of developing the sport, China has been talking about 'breeding wolves'. Well, now the wolf has grown up and it has returned home to bite."
On 3 May 2010, the Singapore National Olympic Council named the national women's table tennis team of which she is a member together with Feng Tianwei, Zena Sim Kai Xin, Sun Beibei and Yu Mengyu as Team of the Year (Team Event) for 2009. Later in the year, she clinched the gold in the women's singles at the 2010 Japan Open of the ITTF Pro Tour on 4 July, beating Zhu Yuling 4–0 in less than half an hour.
At the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, Wang and her colleagues Feng and Li beat the hosts to take the women's team gold medal on 8 October. She also won the mixed doubles competition with Yang on 12 October, took silver with Feng in the women's doubles on 14 October, and clinched the bronze medal in the singles the day before. Subsequently, at the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, Wang and her teammates Feng and Li achieved the silver in the women's team event on 16 November.
Wang represented Singapore at the 2012 Summer Olympics in Singapore. In the women's singles, she was defeated 4–1 by Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa in the quarterfinals on 31 July. She also participated in the women's team competition with Feng Tianwei and Li Jiawei. They were beaten 0–3 by Japan in the semifinals, but took the bronze medal on 7 August by edging South Korea out 3–0. Feng defeated Kim Kyung Ah 11–9, 11–8, 4–11, 13–11; and Li also successfully fended off Seok Ha Jung 11–5, 11–8, 6–11, 11–8. Li and Wang then succeeded in the doubles game against Seok and Dang Ye Seo 11–9, 11–6, 6–11, 11–5. This marked the first time Singapore had won more than one medal at an Olympic Games.
On 29 August 2012, Wang announced to The Straits Times that she had submitted her resignation from competitive sports on 24 August to spend more time with her mother and her husband Gabriel Lee, a Taiwanese based in Germany. She indicated that she would like to start a family, and to study economics and management, or sport psychology. She said: "It's the right time to leave. I'm getting old, I've been injured, and I've a family now. It's time to give our youth paddlers a chance. If it's still the three of us [Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and herself] at Rio in 2016, it's not good for the development of Singapore sport."