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Ong Xin Yee may be only 13 but she already knows what she wants — to be an Olympic champion one day.NSTP/K.M. BOOPATHY

ONG Xin Yee is a shuttler who enjoys eating and sleeping. However, these ‘bad’ habits have not affected her competitiveness and focus in the sport as she hopes to become an Olympic champion one day.

The 13-year-old is determined to succeed and does not intend to fade away after her junior days.

Her fondness for food and sleep may not portray her as a serious player, but she made her presence felt by becoming the youngest player to reach the girls’ singles final of the National Under-18 Championships in Alor Star last month.

‘I used to be fat when I was young but not anymore. I love food, but now I only consume small portions.

‘Sleeping is just what I like to do outside training and tournaments, but these habits have never affected my game,’said Xin Yee recently.

Despite losing to Khor Jing Wen in the final of national Under-18 meet, Xin Yee’s feat is still outstanding.

It indicates that she is playing beyond her age and has the pedigree to become a world-class player,just like her idol Tai Tzu Ying of Taiwan.

World No 1 Tzu Ying is among the favourites to win the women’s singles gold medal at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

She has won more than 20 major titles, including gold at last year’s Asian Games in Indonesia.

The Taiwanese is known as a tough competitor on court.

Xin Yee, whose father Ong Kim Chua is an electrical appliances salesman from Kuala Lumpur, has now started playing like her idol.

‘I want to be an Olympic champion one day. I want to train hard and do very well just like my favourite player Tzu Ying. She is a complete player. She battles hard during matches and is also patient,” said the Form One student of Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).

‘I will try to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics. If I fail then I will go all out and qualify for the 2028 Olympics...this is my aim.

‘For now, I want to start winning junior tournaments. I haven’t won any national-level tournaments yet.”

Xin Yee only took up the sport seriously after watching former World No 1 Lee Chong Wei in action during an international tournament on television when she was nine.

She then started training at Times Badminton Academy under former national player Foo Voon Loong before joining Ampang Jaya Badminton Club in 2016. She has been with BJSS since early this year.

BJSS coach Zhang Hongyu is aware of Xin Yee’s potential but is very careful in nurturing her.

China-born Hongyu, who has spent more than two decades as a junior coach in Malaysia, is delighted that Xin Yee models herself after Tzu Ying as the Taiwanese is one of the best players in the women’s game.

‘I want Xin Yee to progress at her own pace. She has talent but it is always a challenge for those with potential to make a successful transition from junior to senior badminton.

‘Tzu Ying is physically strong and has all-round abilities.She is a good attacker and also defends well. Xin Yee plays a similar style, but she has a long way to go.

‘Allow her to earn her stripes in junior international competitions first before even thinking about the senior level.’

Hongyu’s apprehension is understandable.

Two-time world junior champion Goh Jin Wei was fast-tracked into the national senior team and is now having health issues.

The 19-year-old underwent surgery for a stomach ailment recently and it has affected her chances of qualifying for next year’s Olympics.

Meanwhile, mixed doubles Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying’s campaign in the Denmark Open came to an end in the quarter-finals when the fourth seeds went down 21-18, 21-18 to fifth seeds Seo Seung Jae-Chae Yujung of South Korea in Odense on Friday.

The defeat also ended Malaysia’s interest in the tournament.

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