Jing Jun Hong
Pioneering table tennis player and coach
Jing Junhong might have just missed out on an Olympic medal of her own, but she helped to create the conditions for the generation of players after her to break Singapore’s 48-year medal dry spell.
In 1988, Junhong was the number three player in China, with not a thought in the world about moving to another country. Then she met Singaporean paddler Loy Soo Han when he went to Shanghai for a nine-month training camp. They fell in love, and married four years later. Junhong moved to Singapore, expecting to settle into a ‘simple and peaceful’ life. But that was not to be.
Junhong, who became a Singapore citizen in 1994, was soon playing for Singapore. In the 1995 Commonwealth Championships, she won the silver medal, losing out to then world number three, Chai Po Wa from Hong Kong. In the same year’s SEA Games held at Chiangmai, she not only won the singles event, she also took home the mixed doubles gold as well as silver for the women’s doubles. It was just the beginning of a long string of medals she would win.
This set the stage for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics – the first of her three outings to the world’s top sporting meet as a Singapore representative. While she did not reach the quarter finals, Junhong’s performance was then the best by a female Singaporean athlete thus far. The following year, she was named Sportswoman of the Year award – the first of the three she would get.
Another milestone in Junhong’s career was the 2000 Sydney Olympics, when she came tantalizingly close to breaking the medal drought but had to settle for fourth place. At the 2004 Athens Games, she made it to the third round.
Junhong retired as a player in 2004. By then, a new generation of women table tennis players was starting to make its mark. In 2008, they won the women’s team silver in the Beijing Olympics.
In 2009, Junhong was named deputy head coach of the women’s team, and in 2013 she became the head coach and took on the challenge of trying to steer Singapore’s women paddlers to continued victory.
Junhong was Her World magazine’s “Young Woman Achiever” in 2000.
"This is where athletes really have to go."
Referring to the Olympic Games.