Hong Kong Table Tennis
Coach Li Ching has challenged Hong Kong's current crop of players to hone their fighting spirit and match the world-class achievements of his own generation by claiming gold at the upcoming Asian Championships.
Li was a member of the Hong Kong team when they clinched their best-ever result at the Asian Championships with three gold medals in Jeju, South Korea, 10 years ago.
They won a women's team gold, with Lin Ling being crowned the women's singles champion, while Li and Ko Lai-chak took the men's doubles gold.
Li also clinched a singles silver medal after losing to mainlander Wang Liqin in the final. Now the women's team coach, Li said his charges had almost reached the same standard as their predecessors in terms of skill and technique, but mentally there was a big gap to close.
"A lot of changes have been made in the intervening years, with many home-grown talents being recruited into the senior squad, " said Li, who will lead the team to Pattaya, Thailand, next week for the biennial regional championships.
They still lack a strong fighting spirit to push them to be the world's best, which contrasts so strongly with the mainlanders who are determined to beat any opponent
"With plenty of playing opportunities, they have been making big progress and gained a lot of experience at world level.
"But they still lack a strong fighting spirit to push them to be the world's best, which contrasts so strongly with the mainlanders who are determined to beat any opponent they meet. They have to turn themselves into fighters and fear nobody on the court so they can become real world-class players."
At 22, Lee Ho-ching is one of the fast-improving home-grown players. Ranked 35th in the world, Lee said she was struggling to attain the next level.
"My skills are fine and I have also gained a lot of international experience over the last couple of years, " said Lee.
"But sometimes I think too much on court and lose focus. I know I need to improve my mental state before I can go further."
Lee will be taking part in her third Asian Championships in Pattaya, along with other home-grown talents including Doo Hoi-kem, Li Ching-wan, Soo Wai-yam and Mak Tze-wing. Veteran Tie Yana and Jiang Huajun will make up the seven-member squad.
The men's team will include Tang Peng, Wong Chun-ting, Jiang Tianyi, Ho Kwan-kit, Lam Siu-hang and Ng Pak-nam.