KUALA LUMPUR: Amicable Ho Yen Mei is a soft-spoken and a quiet person by nature.
But on the badminton court, the 18-year-old has shown that she has the right attributes and character to make it big with her aggressive display.
In just one year since making her grade into the national women’s team, she won her first junior international title in the Malaysian Youth International Championships and in October, she defeated her senior Yang Li Lian for her first local title at the Perak Open.
With Malaysia desperately looking to add depth in the women’s singles department, the rise of Yen Mei augurs well.
The others currently in the women’s singles department are Tee Jing Yi, Li Lian, Lim Yin Fun, Sonia Cheah and Lim Chiew Sien but all of them are still trying to bridge the gap with their predecessors.
Yen Mei however, could have been a swimmer if not for her father Albert Ho.
“My family used to go to the Pandan Lake Club when I was younger. My mother took me for swimming classes while my father played badminton. After my swimming class, my mom and I used to wait for my dad.
“Then I started playing with my dad and his friends. Just a year later, thanks to all their advices, I signed up for badminton classes,” said Yen Mei, who finally got a place in Bukit Jalil Sports School when she was in Form Three.
She has no regret taking up badminton but still loves swimming.
“I have taken up badminton seriously now but during my free time, I will be at the pool. Swimming is relaxing and takes away the stress from a hard day’s work at the badminton court.”
The youngster, who also has a penchant for creative art and loves origami, is motivated to become the country’s shining star but she admits that she needs to be patient.
“In origami, one needs to have patience. It is the same in badminton,” said Yen Mei.
“There is still a long way to go for me. I want to start winning at lower tiered tournaments like the International Challenge and Satellite tournaments. Ultimately, I want to make my appearance in the Olympic Games,” she said.
“What I fear most is injury but I hope to stay as away from it. My main weakness is my physical fitness. I hope to be tougher and stronger to last the pace as the sport has become very demanding.”
Yen Mei said that she was ready to focus more on her badminton career after going through the hardship during her junior days,
“During my junior days, I struggled to balance between studies and badminton. There was so much of pressure. I was mentally drained,” said Yen Mei, who did not win a medal at last year’s Youth Olympic Games but did reasonably well in her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia scoring 3As and 5Bs.
“Now, it is all about badminton. This is my first year in the national team and I am just enjoying it. I have great team-mates, who are both encouraging and competitive,” added Yen Mei.
With such determination and focus, Malaysia can indeed look forward for Yen Mei to be a roaring success in badminton.