The girl be­hind the rac­quet

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - WOMAN -

GOH Liu Ying’s life has al­ways re­volved around bad­minton. She started play­ing bad­minton at 10 and started train­ing se­ri­ously at 13. It was tough – it has lit­er­ally been all about bad­minton with lit­tle time to spend with fam­ily or friends.

“I left home to en­roll at the Bukit Jalil Sports School when I was 13. Stay­ing at the school was like be­ing in jail, al­most. We couldn’t go out – only one day ev­ery fort­night and for just six hours. Those days, even go­ing to the pasar malam on my off days was such a treat!” shares Goh, adding that the longest break they’d get was a week. School hol­i­days were spent in train­ing too.

Al­though many of her peers dropped out of the train­ing pro­gramme be­cause of the gru­elling and ex­haust­ing regime, Goh per­se­vered.

“Ac­tu­ally, I don’t know why I stayed. I just wanted to give my­self a shot at the game. Though my fa­ther en­cour­aged me, he never put pres­sure on me. I think that helped. I didn’t feel as pres­sured as some of the oth­ers. But then again, I was al­ways the last one in the group rank­ings!” she says can­didly.

When she was 16, Goh found her niche in the mixed dou­bles cat­e­gory. This, she says, com­pletely changed the way she viewed the game.

“I fell in love with bad­minton again. Mixed dou­bles is a very tac­ti­cal game, more so than when you are play­ing sin­gles and I loved it. Win­ning was so much more sat­is­fy­ing be­cause I am play­ing with my part­ner and our game has to be cal­cu­la­tive,” says Goh, her eyes light­ing up as she speaks of the sport.

Life con­tin­ues to be reg­i­mented for Goh. She lives in a hos­tel with her fel­low shut­lers in Mount Kiara, Kuala Lumpur. She trains five hours a day six days a week and spends her Sun­days with her fam­ily, friends or her boyfriend, for­mer na­tional shut­tler Ong Jian Guo. Even at 27, Goh still has a 10.30pm cur­few.

“It is tough but to be an ath­lete, we need dis­ci­pline. We need the pres­sure to per­form to mo­ti­vate us to im­prove our game. We just need to know how not to let the pres­sure get to us. That’s the life of an ath­lete,” she says mat­ter- of- factly.

There have been times when she thought of quit­ting and do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent with her life.

“I wouldn’t say quit­ting but giv­ing up. Not be­cause of the sched­ule but my in­juries. When I went for my knee op­er­a­tion two years ago, it was a re­ally dif­fi­cult point in my life. These sorts of in­juries are with you for life and I do not know how long I will be able to go on even after the surgery. Many times I won­der if it is worth it,” she shares.

Re­cov­ery was slow – for six months, Goh wasn’t able to play at all. Progress seemed to be too slow and she was mis­er­able.

“Also, be­cause I wasn’t train­ing or play­ing, my salary was cut. I was de­pressed, to be hon­est. But then I re­minded my­self of my goal to reach the Olympics again. I pushed those neg­a­tive thoughts out of my head and de­cided to think of other things apart from my in­jury,” she re­lates.

It led her to the Amber Chia mod­el­ling agency where she learnt the ba­sics of mod­el­ling.

“No... that’s not my back- up plan for when I re­tire. I was in­ter­ested in learn­ing how to model and I needed to get my mind off my in­juries and so I did it for fun,” says Goh with­out hes­i­ta­tion.

Goh is now set on break­ing into the top five of the world rank­ing. She is estatic that the mixed dou­bles cat­e­gory is fi­nally get­ting its mo­ment in the sun and she in­tends to build on this mo­men­tum and train harder. “It’s a good start for mixed dou­bles... and it is also a good boost for women in bad­minton. This is the first time a woman has won a medal for the sport in the coun­try and it will in­spire more girls,” says Liu Ying con­fi­dently Any plans for mar­riage, she says, will have to take a back seat. “Right now, I’m go­ing to fight for bad­minton first. My boyfriend? Yes, of course he is ok with that,” she says firmly.

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