KUALA LUMPUR: Youngster Lai Pei Jing is back in the limelight after being named as the replacement for Goh Liu Ying in the squad for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow from July 23-Aug 4.
Pei Jing will partner Chan Peng Soon in the mixed doubles event. They will be part of a 10-member team for the Games.
The 21-year-old Pei Jing has been given the nod to feature in her first major Games as her senior Liu Ying, who went for surgery on both her knees on May 20, has been ruled out of all competitions until the end of this year.
Pei Jing has played with Peng Soon, experiencing mixed fortunes in four international tournaments this year.
They were the runners-up at the Austrian International Challenge, crashed out in the opening round of the All-England, lost in the second round of the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold and went down in the quarter-finals of the Indian Open.
The others in the squad to Scotland are the members of the Thomas Cup runners-up team - world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng and Tan Wee Kiong-Goh V Shem and Uber Cup members - Tee Jing Yi, Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo and Lim Yin Loo.
Scratch pair Wee Kiong-V Shem’s impressive performances at the Thomas Cup as well as their ranking as the second men’s doubles won them a spot in the squad.
Each country can only send five men and five women for the Commonwealth Games.
The 24-year-old Liu Ying said that she finally went for the surgery on May 20 after postponing it a few times. She is however determined to come back stronger in her pursuit of excellence at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“This is the best decision for now. Initially, I wanted to wait until the Commonwealth Games but it would not have been fair to the team as my condition has not improved,” admitted Liu Ying.
“I have to use crutches for the next one month and if all goes well, I should be back on my feet next January. It will give me six months to recover. I will surely miss the game.”
In her absence, Malaysia’s strength especially in the mixed team event will be diluted at the Commonwealth Games. England, India and Singapore will be their main challengers.
It will also be a challenge to win an individual gold medal in the mixed doubles event - with world No. 4 Chris Adcock-Gabrielle Adcock of England being the overwhelming favourites.
At the Games in New Delhi four years ago, Malaysia did a superb job of winning four gold medals through Chong Wei (men’s singles), Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (men’s doubles), Kien Keat-Chin Eei Hui (mixed doubles) and the mixed team.
|| Lee Chong Wei, Chong Wei Feng, Tan Wee Kiong-Goh V Shem, Chan Peng Soon
|| Tee Jing Yi, Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo, Lai Pei Jing, Lim Yin Loo