Interview with Tee Jing Yi
Most of them played badminton at an early age, representing their schools at the start then slowly rising through the ranks from district player to state and finally being noticed by the national team.
All of them were unknown to the World then, not until they made the breakthrough in the international scene through sheer hard work and determination and of course talent plays a part as well. And most importantly, they took the chance when there was an opening and this separates the players who made it and those who doesn't.
Any great player will still have to retire one day and their standing in the world of badminton will be replaced by other young players just like them when they were younger. So who will be the next great player? Time will tell...
For today, its a great pleasure for Badminton-Information.com to interview Tee Jing Yi a young rising star women's singles player from Malaysia. She was born in 1991 and currently is the number 1 women's singles player in the country. She participated in the London Olympics 2012.
1. How old are you now?
21 years old now.
2. At what age did you start playing badminton?
Started training at the age of 9 and picking up the sport at the age of 7.
3. Is badminton your number 1 passion and interest?
Yes definitely, no matter what badminton would be always in my heart.
4. Were you good in other sports as well or badminton was just 'it?
Not really but when I was 12 years old I do play volleyball and ping pong for my school.
5. Which state did you represented before being drafted to the National Team?
I represented the Penang State Team.
6. And you were drafted in because you won some national championships?
I won all events in the under 12 category such as MSSM (national championship) and the National Junior Grand Prix Final. At first, I wouldn't want to enter national junior too early. BAM kept on calling me to join the sports school set up but in the end they managed to persuade me to enter the set up at the age of 13 years old. Initially I would want to stay in Penang town where my family just bought a house there at that time until I was 17 years old (finishing high school).
7. Was it your intention to be a professional player from the start?
Not really, I was just picking it up as a sport. I started seriously when I finished my high school at the age of 17 years old. Studies and badminton can't really combine. Just focus at one thing at a time in different phrases of my life.
8. How do you find the route of becoming a national player for Malaysia, easy or extremely hard?
To become a national player it's quite easy I would say, but to become a world class player it's the most challenging part. To reach the top 20 in world rankings is also very difficult.
9. What has been the most difficult barrier for you to overcome in order to become a professional badminton player?
First is mental and the second is physical. Mental is the biggest barrier, mostly in tournaments. We need to adjust our mind to perform well, in terms of consistency or handle the pressure from your own self, media, family and how to catch back up in points when you are down.
10. Have you ever thought of quitting?
Sure, every player would have thought that in some period. I remember when I was 17 years old, I was deciding between studies and badminton; so I went to talk to my coach and I ask him on how far I can go in badminton. He replied "don't give up so easily", more over at that time I was the top junior in country.
11. Are you playing and training full time now?
12. Are you enjoying it?
Yes of course.
13. Are you happy with your progress in the game so far?
Not really, my physical and skill consistency is not too stable yet to match with the top 30 players.
14. Have you ever considered playing in doubles?
Nope, I'm always focused in singles.
15. Do you feel any pressure from your coach or BAM that one day you will have to fill in the void left by Lee Chong Wei, Wong Choong Han and Wong Mew Choo etc. once they retire?
I'm sure there is. Mostly from myself.
16. How hard is it to fill in the shoes of these senior players especially when you have players like Chong Wei who is currently world No.1 or Wong Mew Choo who is the best women's singles player in Malaysia history?
When I saw Lee Chong Wei during his preparation for the London Olympics, I was in awe. He can stay in the court for an hour and a half to 2 hours with high intensity and quality training, nonstop. Very high focus level which is extremely hard.
17. Which other young players are being groomed just like you at this stage to take over from the senior players?
Yeah. Tasya, Sonia and Li Lian.
18. There is currently still a big gap to fill between the young players and the senior players. Why is it so?
Probably the difference between the senior players and young players is the strong foundation of the game in the physical aspect which includes mental strength or toughness. For example, when Lee Chong Wei was a teenager he trained with Misbun Sidek which focused more on the physical aspects. After that when he was around 24 years old, he was under coach Li Mao which focused more on skill. That's where you see the rise of Lee Chong Wei.
19. In your view, what can be done to close this gap and help more young players like you to succeed in the international level?
Mostly on the physical aspect and the steadiness in the game as most senior players are very steady.
20. A lot of people say that at the moment, there is no one in Malaysia capable of filling in the shoes of Lee Chong Wei and Wong Mew Choo. Being a young Malaysian player yourself, what's your view on this?
Well I would say, it needs time; I would say around 2 years time. At that time I would be 23 to 24 years old. My long term plan is 4 years to Rio Olympics.
21. To become a successful player, a lot of sacrifices have to be made. Do you think it is worthwhile?
22. What do you think of the new rally points scoring system?
21 points scoring system is a very fast game. It requires a lot high focus level.
23. Currently which player you admire the most, both at the local and the international scene?
In the men's singles I would say Lin Dan. He's the best. He has won every tournament in the world. In the women's singles I would say Lee Xue Rui, I've known her since I was 15 years old. We are the same age. I admire her because during the Olympic women's singles final she shows great fighting spirit and drive to win over more senior team mate Wang Yi Han. She looks more tired than Wang Yi Han, but the drive of winning the match is amazing. She displayed great mental strength, especially the last 4 points.
24. What is your strength in your game?
25. Which part of your game can be improved?
I would say, I would need to improve on my court movement and footwork.
26. What do you think of the Malaysia badminton scene? Is it going uphill or downhill?
Well, I guess it's moving up hill as we see a few improvement like Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng, Goh Liu Ying and Chan Peng Soon who is making a breakthrough.
27. China seems to be producing young players in abundance capable to challenge for international honours. Why do you think so?
They have a very big population. The competition level is very high. To be the best in the district is also very hard as they need to be the best of the best. So enter the national team, it's already an achievement. So that's how they can so much talent as the competition level is so high. They have to fight tooth and nail to be the best. Even the state or club level players are also already very strong.
28. Is the gap really that big between Malaysia badminton and China?
Not really in the men's department. But there's big gap in the women's department.
29. Do you personally think Malaysia Badminton can recapture its previous glory?
It's quite tough.
30. In your view, what more can be done by our sports ministry or BAM to help the above cause?
More centralise training with senior and junior players.
31. Who is your current coach?
Wong Tat Meng
32. What is your current training regime like?
Monday to Saturday. Most physical court training. Morning are mostly court training. Evening is more into physical like running and weight training.
33. What is your advice for other aspiring badminton players?
You have to give your outmost best. But when you are around 14 or 15 years, if your studies are better than badminton, it's better to study, the chances are better when 100 people can get scholarships because of good result, where as in badminton only one can become champion.
34. Do you consider being a professional badminton player a rewarding career?
For now not really, but in the future I guess.
35. When do you expect a breakthrough on the international scene?
23 or 24 years old.
36. What is your aspiration as a badminton player? What would you like to achieve?
My target would be 2013 Sea Games first. My target would be at least the final. For long term it would be winning at least a Super Series.
37. What is your immediate aim?
Sea Games in May 2013, and Sudirman Cup in November 2013.
38. Badminton - Information.com are planning to start a badminton league. Do think it will increase the level of players especially the back-up players and do you support the league?
Yes it's great for the sport. It's an opportunity for players to make money but it depends on BAM to let us play.
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