Malaysia’s GOH Jin Wei

Three years after winning gold at the World Junior Championships for the second time GOH Jin Wei hung up her racket in Sept 2021 aged just 21.  One of Malaysia’s most promising young players had cut her career short leaving fans and coaches wondering what might have been.

Malaysia’s GOH Jin Wei

She embarked on a professional career in 2013 and was soon acknowledged as a potential superstar. Just like Akane Yamaguchi – another World Junior Champion – she was unhampered by her diminutive height. Her speed and agility formed a great platform for a dynamic style that forced mistakes and made her into a difficult opponent.

It turned out that her biggest challenge was not a rival she had faced across the net, instead she was having to confront serious health issues which forced her to step away from the courts.  The effect on her body of a total colectomy was huge and despite her efforts to minimise the impact of the surgery and the side effects of her medication eventually she had to accept that she was too unwell to handle the demanding training regime at the National centre.

“Despite my health concerns, I know there’s no limit to what I can achieve”.

GOH Jin Wei

Although GJW had quit the national set up  she hadn’t completely walked away from badminton .  In fact, by giving herself space she was beginning to see a way forward to manage her health and resume competition. Going at her own pace was effective. She signed a professional contract with Kuala Lumpur Racket Club at the beginning of January 2022.  

In a shocking turn of events, she was then issued with a back-dated two-year ban from competing in BWF tournaments. This paralleled the sanctions on LEE Zii Jia following his request to become an independent professional player. Observers were dismayed at the severity of the punishment for actions that in other walks of life would be completely legitimate. On appeal and after high level arbitration, by the end of January the ban was overturned.

After the disruption and emotional roller coaster of her ban she was finally able to focus on playing.  She had an encouraging 2022, playing in tournaments from Wales to Bangladesh, gradually accruing points and thus higher ranking.  She has fought her way into the top 32 which means that she can enter higher ranking tournaments and most importantly be more selective about what she enters.  We see a similar approach from TAI Tzu Ying and Viktor Axelsen; the simple fact is that getting to a QF in these tournaments gets good points.

Following her recent European games concerns have been raised by commentators about her susceptibility to injury, highlighting the need for her to continue to work on her physical resilience. However, it is crucial to look at her performances considering her surgery and the meagre diet she subsists on. In fact, if games are scheduled at an unfavourable time of day, it’s likely that she will be competing on an empty stomach with only fluids for sustenance. I think she is still searching for ways to mitigate the impact this has on her training and recovery.

The Olympic qualifying period begins in May 2023 and she is eyeing the possibility of competing in Paris with optimism bolstered by a renewed sponsorship from Li-Ning. Her journey has been full of obstacles but her determination to overcome these challenges is remarkable. Undoubtedly she is an exceptional athlete with an unwavering dedication to badminton.

GJW has a great YOUTube channel. If you are interested in finding out more about her life then check it out.

If you enjoyed reading this then you may like this article abbout LEE Zii Jia

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