PETALING JAYA: Tough days don’t last. Tough people do just like women shuttlers Lee Meng Yean-Chow Mei Kuan.
There aren’t days when the world No. 11 Meng Yean and Mei Kuan have not slumped on the floor with tears after a hard day’s training at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in preparation for the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Instead of making up the numbers in the team, the Olympic Games debutants want to make their presence count at the Games from July 23-Aug 8.
Meng Yean said she had been focusing on a special physical programme to complement Mei Kuan.
“We’re in the final stages of training and it has gotten harder. At times, I’ll just cry it out after being pushed hard in training and gym workouts,” said the 27-year-old Meng Yean, who trains under head coach Chan Chong Ming.
“We get so tired sometimes but we continue to push despite all the pain and body aches because we want to see good results at the Olympics.
“I’m working on my fitness while Mei Kuan’s goal is to improve on her court skills and flexibility. I’m on a special diet and have lost two kilos recently. I want to be lean at the Olympics.
“It’s normal for the women’s doubles to be engaged in long rallies. The quality of matches in the Olympics will be higher, a match may even last for one and a half hours. Mei Kuan and I have to be ready.”
On paper, the Malaysians may find their going tough as Japan, China and South Korea are strong and have two representatives each but Meng Yean wants to change the perception on women’s doubles.
“Malaysia have never won a medal at the Olympics in women’s doubles and we hope to change that,” she said.
The best result was a quarter-final finish by Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo at the last Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I don’t believe that our standard is too far from the top 10 players in the world. We can challenge every single one of them. Mei Kuan and I just hope that our best will translate into something special for Malaysia,” she added.
The duo have been consistent this year, having reached the semi-finals of the Thailand Open, World Tour Finals and Swiss Open. One of their significant wins this year was beating Indonesia’s top pair Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu at the Finals in the group stage.
Greysia-Apriyani are one of the eight seeded pairs in the Olympics.
The others are Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota, Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara of Japan; Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan, Du Yue-Li Yinhui (Chn); Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan, Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor); and Gabriela Stoeva-Stefani Stoeva (Bul).