France’s China-born Hongyan proves she is still hot property at 30 (pic)

Veteran’s touch: France’s Pi Hongyan returning a shot to Germany’s Juliane Schenk during their women’s singles quarterfinal on Friday.

WOMEN’S singles shuttler Pi Hongyan of France is not getting any younger but a one-year contract with Malaysian-based professional badminton club KL Rackets (KLRC) clearly shows that she is still a hot property.Veteran’s touch: France’s Pi Hongyan returning a shot to Germany’s Juliane Schenk during their women’s singles quarterfinal on Friday.

In fact, the 30-year-old China-born player is not even thinking of giving up the sport that demands a lot from a player.

“I have won several Open titles but I intend to keep on going bec ause I want to win at least a medal in major tournaments like the World Championships,” said Hongyan.

“I am happy that KLRC have decided to sponsor me for one year, starting with this Malaysian Open (Grand Prix Gold). It will only spur me to play even better.”

The world No. 5, who has been playing under the banner of France for the last seven years since leaving China, has won Opens in Singapore, Denmark, France, Holland, Switzerland and India.

Hongyan said that although age was not a barrier in badminton, the lack of mental strength could lead to a player’s downfall.

“Besides being tactically sound, one has to have the mental strength to cope with the ups and downs.

“It is never easy to stay motivated after going through lean times but this is something a player has to overcome.”

Hongyan also said that China were no longer dominating the women’s singles event.

“We do not see the same player dominating the women’s singles like before.

“It is not that China’s standard has dropped but the other players, like Tine (Rasmussen of Denmark), Wong Mew Choo and Julia (Wong) of Malaysia and Saina (Nehwal of India) have improved,” she said.

Yesterday, Hongyan booked a ticket in the semi-finals at the GP Gold in Johor Baru after a 21-19, 26-24 win over Germany’s Juliane Schenk.

She will take on China’s Wang Shixian in the last four.

* Malaysians unless stated

Men’s singles: Lee Chong Wei bt Kenichi Tago (Jpn) 21-9, 21-15; Hu Yun (Hkg) bt Andre Kurniawan Tedjono (Ina) 21-6, 21-12; Wong Choong Hann bt Gao Huan 21-15, 21-10; Chen Long (Chn) bt Tan Chun Seang 21-14, 12-21, 21-16.

Men’s doubles: Gan Teik Chai-Tan Bin Shen bt Mohd Razif Abdul Latif-Chan Peng Soon 21-14, 21-14; Alven Yulianto-Hendra Gunawan (Ina) bt Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata (Jpn) 21-19, 21-13; Mak Hee Chun-Tan Wee Kiong bt Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif 20-22, 23-21, 21-11; Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong bt Sun Junjie-Tao Jiaming (Chn) 23-25, 21-8, 21-15.

Women’s singles: Pi Hongyan (Fra) bt Juliane Schenk (Ger) 21-19, 26-24; Wang Shixian (Chn) bt Fu Mingtian (Sin) 21-19, 21-10; Wong Mew Choo bt Xing Aiying (Sin) 21-19, 21-10; Wang Xin (Chn) bt Saina Nehwal (Ind) 21-14, 21-10.

Women’s doubles: Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty bt Rei Ito-Yu Wakita (Jpn) 13-21, 21-15, 21-10; Frances Liu Fan-Vanessa Neo Yu Yan (Sin) bt Nairul Suhada Abdul Latif-Amelia Anscelly 21-17, 12-21, 21-19; Gao Ling-Wei Yili (Chn) bt Savitree Amitrapai-Vacharaporn Munkit (Tha) 21-9, 21-4; Ma Jin-Wang Xiaoli (Chn) bt Vita Marissa-Nadya Melati (Ina) 21-11, 21-12.

Mixed doubles: Hendra Gunawan-Vita Marissa (Ina) bt V. Diju-Jwala Gutta (Ind) 8-21, 21-14, 21-16; Xu Chen-Zhao Yunlei (Chn) bt Chen Zhiben-Zhang Jinkang (Chn) 21-10, 17-21, 21-17; Zhang Nan-Pan Pan (Chn) bt Flandi Limpele-Anastasia Russikh (Ina-Rus) 21-10, 21-14; Zheng Bo-Ma Jin (Chn) bt Ong Jian Guo-Chong Sook Chin 21-19, 21-7.

* Today’s semi-finals will be from 2pm onwards)


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