Top NSF & national paddler
//PRODUCER KOH ENG BENG
//CAMERAMAN ZAKEE TEO & AJAY PRASHAD
//PHOTOS AMOS CHEW, LIONEL LEE & COURTESY OF SINGAPORE TABLE TENNIS ASSOCIATION
Infantry trooper Corporal (CPL) (NS) Koen Pang did Singapore proud last year by reaching the top 32 of the World Table Tennis Championships 2021. He also clinched the NSF of the Year 2021 award.
Here's five things you need to know about him:
1. He is talented
CPL (NS) Pang started playing table tennis at five years old, and enrolled in the Singapore Sports School in 2015.
In Aug 2019, he became the first table tennis player from Singapore to become the Under-18 world No. 1.
He created history again at the 2019 SEA Games by becoming the first Singapore-born table tennis player to win the men's singles gold medal.
2. He is an infantryman
In July 2020, he enlisted for full-time National Service (NS) as an infantry trooper with 1st Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR).
He operates the Section Automatic Weapon or SAW. Just like any infantryman, he chiong sua (hokkien for charging up the hill), dug shellscrapes, and went on route marches.
3. He is a model national serviceman
Due to his sports background, CPL (NS) Pang's fitness was usually better than his platoon mates but he always supported and motivated them during training.
He scored 94 points for his recent Individual Physical Proficiency Test: 60 push-ups, 60 sit-ups, and 9min 25s for 2.4km.
On what motivated him to put in his best effort in 1 SIR, CPL (NS) Pang said: "It's my friends, my platoon mates…I just want to do this with them because it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience."
4. He works hard
Unlike his peers who could rest after booking out, CPL (NS) Pang would be training with the national team at the Singapore Table Tennis Association on his weekends off.
His hard work paid off at the 2021 World Table Tennis Championships in Houston, United States. The then-world No. 161 upset Brazil's 38th-ranked Gustavo Tsuboi 4-2 to reach the top 32.
5. He's going full-time
The 20-year-old plans to play table tennis full-time after completing his full-time NS on 10 May.
His immediate goal is to win medals for Singapore at the upcoming SEA Games, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games this year. He also aims to qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games.
"I hope Singaporeans will support Team Singapore in our upcoming games," he said.
Watch this video to catch CPL (NS) Pang in action as an infantry trooper and table tennis player!