PETALING JAYA: Goh Jin Wei turned her frown into a smile and sorrow into joy – all within a week.
A distraught 18-year-old Jin Wei cried all night long last week after her defeat to Wang Zhiyi that saw Malaysia lose 3-1 to eventual champions China in the mixed team quarter-finals.
And at that point, Jin Wei thought her last World Junior Championships campaign in Markham, Canada, was destined for a disastrous end.
But Jin Wei made amends for her earlier loss in style by winning her second girls’ singles title when she bulldozed past Denmark’s Line Christophersen 21-13, 21-11 in just 31 minutes.
She became the first Malaysian to win the girls’ world junior title in Lima, Peru, in 2015 but was unsuccessful in her next two bids – managing only a last-16 finish in Bilbao, Spain, in 2016 before settling for bronze in her third appearance in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last year.
“It’s really satisfying,” said Jin Wei of her victory.
“Becoming the world junior champion again was the last thing on my mind, especially after a disappointing performance in the mixed team event.
“The team were counting on me to save the tie (Malaysia were 1-2 down at that time), but I failed and let everyone down.
“I actually cried all night after that match and was really down for the next couple of days.”
The individual competitions did not start until three days later and Jin Wei took all the time she needed to regroup.
And when she resumed her challenge in the individual competition, the reigning Youth Olympic Games champion was unstoppable and she quickly reminded her rivals that she meant business.
Jin Wei made short work of her first four opponents – spending no more than 25 minutes – in her straight-game victories over Brazil’s Sania Lima, New Zealand’s Zecily Fung, Canada’s Wendy Zhang and South Korea’s Lee So-yul.
And Jin Wei knew the title was in her hand when she settled the score with top seed Zhiyi in Saturday’s semi-finals – dubbed as the final.
In the title match on Sunday, the reigning European junior champion Christophersen, coached by former great Peter-Gade Christensen, had no answer to a fired-up Jin Wei.
“As the individual tournament progressed, my confidence gradually improved. I didn’t expect to bounce back and reclaim the title,” said Jin Wei.
“It surely makes up for the earlier disappointments. This is my last junior tournament, and I’m so happy to end it with a gold.”
Despite the win, Jin Wei was quick to say that she’s “still nobody.”
Jin Wei said what mattered more was to replicate the same success at senior level.
“It’s been an incredible year, winning my second world junior title and a Youth Olympic gold. But I don’t intend to look back because it’s all in the past now,” said the level-headed Jin Wei.
“The moment I stepped down from the podium, I’m starting all over again.”
Jin Wei’s illustrious junior career also included two mixed team silvers at the world juniors in 2016 and 2017; and two Asian Junior Championships bronzes in girls’ singles (Bangkok 2015) and mixed team (Jakarta 2017).
There’s hardly any rest for Jin Wei, who will return home with the team today, as she will head to Gwangju, South Korea, for her final assignment at the Korean Masters from Nov 27-Dec 2.