PETALING JAYA: It’s now or never.
Age is catching up and Lai Pei Jing knows that she has to step up to the plate with Tan Kian Meng to realise their dreams of competing in their maiden Olympic Games in Tokyo in July.
The pair are currently ranked 13th in the Race to Tokyo rankings. Two others ahead of them are independent shuttlers Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (7th) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (10th).
A country can have a maximum of two pairs if both are ranked in the top eight when the qualification ends on April 30.
Pei Jing-Kian Meng have to start reaching the finals and winning them if they are to crack the top eight and make it to Tokyo.
Pei Jing, who turns 28 in August, knows it could probably be her last chance to play in the Olympics.
“We cannot waste time anymore. We will keep giving our best in all the tournaments to collect valuable ranking points, ” vowed Pei Jing.
They have a golden opportunity to get off on the right foot when they compete in the Spain Masters from Feb 18-23.
Nothing less than reaching the final will do as they are seeded second behind Soon Huat-Shevon.
Kian Meng-Pei Jing have a relatively easy opener against Rodion Alimov-Alina Davletova of Russia but will most probably face a much sterner test against England’s Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith in the semi-finals.
The English pair are two rungs above the Malaysians at No. 11 in the Olympic qualification race and are also in a fierce battle with their own compatriots Chris Adcock-Gabrielle Adcock (12th) for a spot in the Tokyo Games.
“It will not be easy in Spain because both English pairs are playing as well. They are the third and fourth seeds, so I think it will be quite tough. We will just focus on every match, ” explained Pei Jing.
After the Spain Masters, Kian Meng-Pei Jing will train for a week in France before competing in the German Open (March 3-8), All-England (March 11-15), Malaysian Open (March 31-April 5) and Singapore Open (April 7-12).
“We really need to improve on our consistency. We can play very well and then we lose to lower ranked players in the next tournament.
“I think our problem is probably not skill or fitness but mental strength and handling pressure. Things like that, ” said Pei Jing.
They had bounced back from a disappointing first-round loss in the Malaysian Masters to reach consecutive semi-finals in the Indonesia and Thailand Masters last month.
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