KUALA LUMPUR: Mixed doubles shuttler Goh Liu Ying may be the new poster girl of Malaysian badminton but she won’t allow the growing adulation and attention to distract her from her real mission — getting it right in major events this year.
The 23-year-old Liu Ying, who has struck up a formidable combination with Chan Peng Soon in the mixed doubles, is hoping to achieve her best results in two major assignments this year – the All-England in Birmingham from March 5-10 and the World Championships in Guangzhou in August.
After failing to live up to expectations in numerous tournaments in the last five years, the world No. 3 Liu Ying-Peng Soon are hoping to go one step better than last year’s semi-final appearance in the All-England.
They are also equally determined to clear the early rounds at the world meet for the first time. Liu Ying admitted that her fans had doubled since she paired up with Peng Soon five years ago.
“I do have a lot of fans and friends, thanks to badminton. Some want more than friendship but I keep everyone within the boundary of player-fan relationship. I keep my boyfriend – Ong Jian Guo – in the loop too and he is supportive,” said Liu Ying, flashing her infectious smile.
Jian Guo plays in the men’s doubles with Teo Kok Siang and Lim Yin Loo in the mixed doubles.
“My focus is to take my badminton career to greater heights with Peng Soon. In fact, the support from the fans is a source of motivation for me,” said Liu Ying.
She also feels that that they (together with Peng Soon) have closed the gap on the more consistent mixed doubles pairs like Xu Chen-Ma Jin and Zhang Nan-Zhao Yunlei of China, Ahmad Tantowi-Lilyana Natsir of Indonesia and Joachim Fischer Nielsen-Christinna Pedersen of Denmark
“We are now the world No. 3 but we don’t act like one in the big tournaments. The other pairs exude extreme confidence and know when to bring out their best. We tend to get slightly distracted in big events,” admitted Liu Ying.
“It’s due to a lack of confidence on our side ... we also let the pressure disrupt our concentration. We can play good badminton sometimes but our aim is to bring out our best in major tournaments.”
Liu Ying and Peng Soon have put Malaysia’s mixed doubles on the map since winning the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC) in 2010. They’ve gone on to win the Bitburger German Open in 2011 and the Malaysian Open GP Gold and Japan Open Super Series last year.
The duo are seen as key players in Malaysia’s attempt for a top-four finish in the Sudirman Cup, the world mixed team event to be held at Putra Stadium from May 19-26.
But for now, it’s time to unwind with family and friends and celebrate the Chinese New Year in her hometown Malacca.
“I love my mother’s (Yong Ooi Lin) cooking! We usually have steamboat during our family reunion dinner. Besides catching up on what’s been happening with everyone, badminton is also the main topic of our conversations.
“I’ll be spending only two days with my family as I have to return to Kuala Lumpur and get ready for the German Open,” said Liu Ying, who hopes to use the German Open (from Feb 26-March 3) as a warm-up for the All-England.