KUALA LUMPUR: Soniia Cheah is hoping for a fresh start in the new year after coming close to quitting the national badminton team.
The national No. 1 women’s singles shuttler revealed yesterday that she suffered from a confidence meltdown after her silver-medal feat at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.
She crashed out in the early rounds of every tournament after the KL Games – at the Korean Open and Japan Open (Sept), French Open and Bitburger Open in Germany (Oct) and the Korean Masters (Nov).
Fortunately, the 24-year-old decided to give her career another chance after a heart-to-heart talk with her family, especially her mother Low Poh Lian recently.
“I was at the brink of handing over my resignation letter in the past weeks. I had lost the interest to train,” said the world No. 29.
“I was dragging my feet and could not focus during training. I didn’t even want to wake up in the morning and I just didn’t want to touch the racquet. I was miserable.
“I’m the country’s top women’s singles player but the world ranking means nothing. There is still a gap between me and the world’s best players.
“I began to question my purpose in the national team and was prepared to throw in the towel.”
Focusing on her part-time A-Level studies at the HELP University seemed like the best option before she finally made up her mind.
“My family knows my sacrifices over the last two years. I’ve come out of injury (in early 2016) to be the top ranked player but I didn’t feel valued. I was distracted by comments made by fans that I was not good enough,” admitted Soniia.
“My mother told me to believe in myself. I’ve also been struggling to balance between studies and sport. She told me to focus on one and I’ve chosen badminton.
And Soniia is going into 2018 with renewed determination.
“I’m fully focused on badminton now and hopefully, there will be breakthroughs for me,” said Soniia.
Soniia will open the new season at the Thailand Masters in Bangkok from Jan 9-14. She will also take part in the Malaysian Masters in Kuala Lumpur from Jan 16-21.
“I didn’t make the top-20 target in 2017 but I’ll try to achieve that in 2018. Ultimately, I want to end my career by qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Then, I can hang up the racquet for good,” she added.
Other shuttlers ranked below Sonia in the national team are world No. 50 Goh Jin Wei, Lee Ying Ying (62), Ho Yen Mei (68), Lim Yin Fun (88), S. Kisona (97) and M. Thinaah (127).