TO be frank, I could have been writing today’s column as a former national player.
I have to admit that I nearly decided to retire from badminton a month ago after my first round loss (to Brice Leverdez of France) at the World Championships in Scotland in August.
I felt empty and I could not accept my defeat at the time. I had worked hard to prepare for the tournament and I certainly did not expect to lose in the first round.
It was a bitter pill to swallow at the time. After the loss, the media asked if I was going to retire.
The thought of retiring did cross my mind at the time though I said that I had no answer to the question (from the media).
I asked to be given space and time to make a decision on my future.
However, deep in my heart I felt that Glasgow was my last tournament.
Immediately after the loss, I changed my flight ticket to go home to Malaysia. At the time I realised that the best place for me was to be with my family and loved ones.
I am very lucky to have a family who always support and encourage me to succeed in my profession.
I felt really empty when I arrived in KL. I did not touch a racquet when I got home and did not even watch a single match (of the World Championships) on TV.
I spent my time with my family, I jogged, swam and exercised in the gym to clear my mind.
Only then was I able to think clearly. I had identified the cause of my loss in Glasgow — I had placed too much pressure on myself to win. It was a useful lesson for me.
I also discussed my future with BAM patron Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria.
After the discussion, I had a clearer picture of my future. I knew I still had much to give to the sport and for the country. I decided to continue playing.
There are a lot of major competitions next year such as the Thomas Cup, Asian and Commonwealth Games as well as the World Championships. It is my responsibility to keep flying the flag for Malaysia.
I am getting older, so I shouldn’t be disappointed just because of certain losses. Anyway, I am still in the top 10 in the world, so I don’t need to pressure myself. My approach now is simple, just enjoy every game that comes.
Winning and losing is part of the game. As long as I give it my best, there is nothing to be disappointed with.
I am truly touched by the support shown by all parties, especially the fans, although I failed in my mission to become the world champion.
I experienced something extraordinary at the KL Sea Games final, the fans were chanting my name and that was what made me decide to keep on playing for the country.
It gave me the strength to play in the Japan Open last month. Although I did not win my seventh Japan Open title, I felt my performance throughout the tournament was a positive. I was not disappointed as I had been in the Japan Open final nine times in total and won six. It was good enough for me.
In fact, I had also achieved my 100th Grand Prix final at the Japan Open which is not easy to achieve by any players standards. My performance against Viktor Axelsen in the final was also my best in four previous meetings.
I will prepare for the French and Denmark Opens, and I will keep on working hard and giving it my best in every competition I join. – New Straits Times