PETALING JAYA: While his contemporaries Lee Chong Wei and Lin Dan have missed out on a fifth Olympic Games appearance, Vietnamese veteran Nguyen Tien Minh (pic) looks all set to match the duo’s feat at 38!
Tien Minh, a former world No. 5 and the 2013 World Championships bronze medallist, should have little trouble making the top 38-cut as he’s sitting comfortably at 28th in the Race to Tokyo standings.
Tien Minh made his debut in Beijing 2008 reaching only the second round (last-32, then held in knockout format) and went on to compete in London 2012 and Rio 2016, but failed to clear the group stage.
Well past his prime, world No. 56 Tien Minh is not expected to contend for a medal in what could be his last Olympics start, but it would still mean the world to him.
According to reports in Vietnam, Tien Minh had already created history as the first athlete from his country to compete in three Olympic editions when he featured in Rio five years ago.
Hence, his next appearance in the Tokyo Games from July 23-Aug 8 would make his feat even harder to surpass by fellow countrymen.
It remains to be seen if Tien Minh has the intention to hang up his racquet after the Tokyo Games, but he took to social media last September to reveal he will retire only after achieving 500 career wins.The four-time Vietnam Open champion is still 37 wins shy of his target after amassing 463 wins to date since his international debut in 2001.
Tien Minh did actually retired after the Rio Olympics but it lasted only a month.
“I took up a coaching job after the Olympics. But it was so boring, I realised that’s not how I wanted to live, ” Tien Minh told StarSport in an interview during the 2018 Nanjing World Championships.
“I feel I have a few good years left in me. As long as I take good care of my body, I’ll be fine.
“Participating in tournaments is no longer about winning or losing for me. Playing badminton gives me lots of joy.”
Tien Minh was right to make a comeback and set a good example for his younger rivals.
In 2019, he made heads turn at the Asian Championships in Wuhan, China, by winning his maiden medal - a bronze - in the continent’s flagship meet.
He went all the way to the semi-finals before his gallant run was ended by eventual champion Kento Momota of Japan.