Photo credit: STTA/ERIC KOH

‘Not much pressure’: Paddler Izaac Quek on impending SEA Games debut

Izaac has risen in the rankings from world No. 242 to world No. 68.

Edwin Chan

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Published: 4 May 2023, 10:46 AM

Rising table tennis star Izaac Quek will finally have the opportunity to face the region’s best when he makes his SEA Games debut in May.

The national paddler had narrowly missed the selection for the previous SEA Games squad in 2022, and till date refers to it as a “tough loss”. 

Sharing with Youthopia that he is “really happy” with the opportunity to represent Singapore at this year’s Games, he added: “I’m really looking forward to playing my best and hope to work together with my teammates…to win as many matches as possible.”

While this might be his first SEA Games, Izaac is no stranger to high-level competition in the sport. In March, he shocked the world with his stellar performance at the WTT Singapore Smash. 

Izaac, then ranked 242 in the world, had upset world No. 51 Sharath Kamal Achanta and world No. 36 Mattias Falck, before suffering a 3-0 defeat to world No. 3 Wang Chuqin.

His unexpected good showing at the tournament left him feeling satisfied. Following the Singapore Smash, he rose 170 positions in the world rankings to No. 72. This also marks his first Top 100 entry.

The 16-year-old revealed that the experience in the tournament also gave him insights to play better. These include picking up on the various tactics used by stronger opponents.

“After playing this tournament, I know what to use and what to do during crucial moments… So (the SEA Games) is a time when I can implement what I learned from the Singapore Smash, and try to improve my game,” shared Izaac. 

Despite his recent success, Izaac feels “not much pressure” going into his Games debut. While he recognises that his opponents are experienced regional players, he is ready to give it his “best shot”.

Amid the slew of compliments and praise, Izaac chooses to remain grounded and is making it a point not to get complacent.

“I’m trying to keep it as normal as possible, just to play like the Singapore Smash didn’t happen.

“I still have to…keep my head down and focus on myself, focus on training and how to prepare for the Games,” he said.

In the preparation, Izaac channelled more time into strength and conditioning. This is to ensure that he does not get injured with the increased intensity of training and frequency of tournaments. The team also incorporates video analysis in their training regime to identify areas that need improvement.

In terms of goals, for Izaac, the “most ideal” situation is to win as many gold medals as a team at the Games. 

“I’m sure that it will be a really really tough tournament…but (we will) work together as one and not think (too) much about the end goal.

“(We will) just think of how to prepare for the competition and how to make sure that we will be in the best shape for every match.”

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