NAYPYITAW: Shuttler Lee Meng Yean, the daughter of a restaurant owner is determined to cook up a storm with her new partner Lim Yin Loo in the women’s doubles.
And for a start, the 19-year-old Meng Yean is ready to give a taste of what can be expected with Yin Loo when they take on Sapsiree Taerattanachai-Putita Supajirakul of Thailand in the quarter-finals of the SEA Games badminton competition on Thursday.
If they win, Meng Yean can be assured of at least one bronze medal in her debut.
The badminton competition started on Monday at the Wunna Theikdi Indoor Stadium C but the players were given a break on Wednesday because of the Games’ opening ceremony.
Meng Yean, who graduated from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) to the national team last year, said she was ready to put her wonderful seven-year partnership with Chow Mei Kuan in the past to start afresh with Yin Loo.
“I enjoyed my partnership with Mei Kuan. We did well to beat the seniors to become the national champions in 2012. We also won last year’s Malaysian International Challenge and emerged as the Olympic Youth champions this year. The coaches however, decided it was time for us to go our separate ways,” said Meng Yean.
“The coaches hoped that the change in partnership would help me and Mei Kuan learn new things, grow up and win titles in the seniors ranks.
“I have learnt a lot from my senior Yin Loo since I teamed up with her two months ago. And I guess, more ‘goodies’ are in store from us.”
Meng Yean said she would not have made it to the national team if not for the encouragement and guidance of her biggest fan and badminton-crazy father Lee Boon Kian.
“My father took me to the badminton hall when I was very young and introduced me to the game. Now, we discuss the skills of the game … we can spend hours analysing the sport.
“He used to play badminton vigorously but after an injury, he is now into table tennis. He is really supportive and wants me to be a champion.
“Whenever, I am upset after losing in a tournament, I will pack my bags and head back home to Malacca. My father owns a restaurant there and that is where I relax.
“I hear comforting words from my father but sometimes, he scolds me too. I take time to wash plates and eat a lot too,” she laughed.
“After that, I always return to training with my spirits lifted.”
Meng Yuan hopes to make her father proud on Thursday in her last eight match with partner Yin Loo.
“We will go in with a fighting chance to book a semi-final ticket,” added Meng Yean, who was thrilled to show a collection of her family photos – particularly of her father – on her smartphone.
Malaysia also have Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo in the women’s doubles. The duo should check into the semi-finals without much problems. They face host Htoo Htoo Ya-Hlaing Mon Kyu on Thursday.