PETALING JAYA: Shuttler Chow Mei Kuan confessed that it was with a heavy heart that she ended her 17-year badminton career.
The 26-year-old’s decision to quit on Monday while still at her prime caught many by surprise. But she explained that it was necessary so she can face the “next challenge.”
“Badminton is my life. I started training at the age of 10, (that’s) about 17 years of badminton (in my) life,” posted Mei Kuan on her Instagram.
“It ain’t easy making this decision. But it must be made in order to move on to the next challenge.”
Mei Kuan, however, did not elaborate but national coaching director Wong Choong Hann had previously said that the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medallist wanted to settle down after tying the knot in December last year.
Last month in Tokyo, Mei Kuan fulfilled her dream when she competed in her first Olympic Games.
With partner Lee Meng Yean, the world No. 11 finished third in a tough group that comprised eventual champions Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia and world No. 1 Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota, whom they lost to in the opening two matches.
Their only win was against Britain’s Lauren Smith-Chloe Birch.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Badminton Association of Malaysia, National Sports Council, coaches, supporting staff, teammates and partner (Meng Yean) for the inspiration, drive and support,” she said.
“Without each and everyone of you, I won’t be able to achieve my Olympics dream. I really appreciate it.”
Meanwhile, Meng Yean is still coming to terms that her more than a decade long partnership with Mei Kuan has come to an abrupt end.
The 27-year-old also shared a heartfelt tribute to her friend and confidant whom she has known since their junior days.
“Although I already knew (Mei Kuan’s retirement), I was still hoping that this day won’t come so soon,” wrote Meng Yean on Instagram.
“I live, train, eat, compete, travel and work hard with you since we’re young. We talk, complain, cry and laugh together... you are like my sister.
“All this while we have been looking after each other (although you’re the one more attentive) and you’re always the first one to be there for me whenever I encountered a problem.
“Rest assured, the 14 years of friendship will live on.
“Although I’m very reluctant, I still respect your decision. Thank you for being my partner and fighting side by side with me for so long.
“I’ll cherish all the memories.”