GEORGE TOWN: It is premature to compare teen badminton prodigy Goh Jin Wei to the reigning world champion Ratchanok Inthanon of Thailand, said her coaches on Wednesday.
The 13-year-old Jin Wei, the youngest player to win a Division Two title in the local circuit, drew comparisons with the Thai youngster after being selected to represent Malaysia at the World Junior Championships in Bangkok from Oct 23-Nov 3.
The 18-year-old Ratchanok, who became the youngest world women’s singles champion this year, won the first of her three World Junior titles in 2009 when she was just 14.
While the Penang-based Jin Wei will be in unchartered waters when she features in the Under-19 tournament in Bangkok later this month, Ratchanok already had a women’s singles senior tournament victory under her belt before winning her maiden World Junior crown in Alor Setar in 2009.
“The Penang badminton officials feel Jin Wei deserves her place in Malaysia’s squad for the World Juniors. She has beaten all the top BJSS (Bukit Jalil Sports School) players and has proven her worth by lifting the Kedah and KL Open Division Two titles,” said Penang team manager Tony Tan.
“However, it is premature at this juncture to start comparing her to Ratchanok. The World Juniors is Jin Wei’s first step into the international scene, and she has not been tested yet at this level.”
Tony, who also coaches the state players and is also the Penang Badminton Association (PBA) secretary, and the state chief coach Deng Lei of China, were both instrumental in charting Jin Wei’s progress after roping her into the Penang development programme.
Her talent was discovered by legendary coach Teh Peng Huat, who has a knack for spotting future stars, including the current world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.
Tony warned against putting undue pressure on Jin Wei, saying that she must be treated with kid gloves.
“She has the potential to be a world beater if nurtured the right way. There is a danger of her being burnt out too early if pushed too hard.
“There is no hurry to expect results from her. A lot of hardwork needs to be done if we are to expect great things from her, and it is important to keep her in the growing process.”
The Jit Sin High School Form 1 student is expected to switch her training base from Penang to Kuala Lumpur next year by joining BJSS.
Besides Jin Wei, the other girls singles players named for the World Juniors are the BJSS-based Ho Yen Mei, S. Kisona and Lee Ying Ying.