PETALING JAYA: Lee Shun Yang almost gave up playing badminton after an embarrassing first-round exit at the 2019 World Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia.
The 19-year-old Penang-born lad lost to Jaokim Oldorff who comes from Finland, a country where badminton is considered a game of leisure and not a sport.
Shun Yang’s conqueror was also two years his junior and that was what made him consider quitting the game for good.
“I couldn’t forgive myself for the poor performance at the WJC, it was simply too hard to take. I trained so hard and was looking forward to achieving a good result but got eliminated early instead, ” recalled Shun Yang.
“I was sad and my confidence was shattered. I asked myself if I really should carry on pursuing my dream to become a world-class shuttler.”
Fortunately, good sense prevailed.
Shun Yang, backed by undivided support from family and coaches, bounced back and marked his return by winning the National Under-21 Championships two months after the Kazan flop.
It was probably a career-saving triumph that helped him to earn a promotion to the senior back-up team, where he’s still under probation.
“That title made me believe in myself again. I am so glad that I didn’t give up and I persevered. I would have left the game if not for encouraging words from my family and coaches Kwan Yoke Meng and Poh Chai Boon, ” said Shun Yang.
Coming into 2020 as a national team rookie wasn’t plain sailing either for Shun Yang.
With no international tournaments due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he managed to play only one match this year – losing to Shaqeem Eiman Shahyar – in the President’s Cup team competition in mid-September.
In August, he could not participate in the BAM Invitational Championships due to an ankle injury.
With his probation set to be reviewed next month, Shun Yang knows the importance of impressing coach Hendrawan in this week’s National Junior Ranking Challenge final stage, featuring showdowns between the seniors and juniors
Shun Yang was among the three back-up team players alongside Low Eu Cong and Ter Chun Long named by Hendrawan to face the top three ranked juniors Justin Hoh, Jacky Kok and Ong Ken Yon.
“I will enter the playoffs with a ‘can’t-afford-to-lose mindset’ and I’m targeting to finish top among the six players, ” said Shun Yang.
“This week is very important for me after missing out on the earlier internal tournament. Failing to do well could jeopardise my future with the the national team.
“The pressure will be on us the seniors, but it’s all about how you cope with it.
“Jacky, Justin and Ken Yon are formidable opponents and I will have to be at my best to beat them.”
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