PETALING JAYA: If a three-month absence from the badminton court wasn’t bad enough, mixed doubles shuttler Lai Pei Jing had to brace herself to face a new coach when she returned to training on June 1.
But thankfully, all her anxiety and fear proved unfounded.
Infact, her training experience with coach Paulus Firman under the new norm has been pleasant thus far. Paulus, who replaced Chin Eei Hui, had previously headed the men’s doubles department.
Pei Jing described the 52-year-old Paulus as an “understanding” and “supportive” coach.
“It’s been so far, so good. Coach Paulus is supportive, encouraging and patient... that’s exactly what we need in this trying times,” said Pei Jing.
“It’s only been two weeks but I can tell that he cares a lot about us.
“He has some ideas on the training programme, but he doesn’t just execute and expect us to follow. He asked us for our feedbacks.
“He also checks on us, to see we are coping with the intensity of training. That’s very nice.
“I’m the type who get emotional easily during training. If things go awry, I would think negatively.
“He notices it and gives me a pep talk.
“So to come under guidance of someone who’s so understanding and supportive like him is reassuring indeed.”
Pei Jing and her partner Tan Kian Meng will be counting on Paulus to revive their slim hopes of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics next year.
They are ranked 13th in the Race to Tokyo standings and still have a mathematical chance to make the top 16 cut if they are able to upstage compatriots Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (seventh) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (11th) as the top two Malaysian pairs.
Malaysia can qualify two pairs if both are ranked in top eight.
But Pei Jing-Kian Meng must first find the consistency in their performance before anything else.
The pair had mixed fortunes prior to the season suspension. They reached the semi-finals of the Indonesian and Thailand Masters but lost early in the All-England and Spain Masters.
Paulus is no stranger to mixed doubles event having represented Indonesia from 1991-1995. He also has vast experience from his coaching stint with the Indonesian national team.
Among the top Indonesian mixed doubles players he had coached previously include Trikus Heryanto, Minarti Timur and Bambang Suprianto.
Besides Soon Huat-Shevon, Paulus also has Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei and Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See under his care. He’s assisted by Teo Kok Siang.
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