After enduring a season of mixed results and fortunes, mixed doubles ace Lai Pei Jing is hoping to reignite a stop-start campaign at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as a key member of the Malaysian contingent.
Lai is on double duty at the multi-sport Games, teaming up with Cheah Yee See in the women’s doubles and spearheading Malaysia’s challenge in the mixed doubles with regular partner Tan Kian Meng.
Lai’s mixed season comprises of two parts, with the first four months producing excellent results as she and Tan clinched a maiden major title together at the Korea Open, having reached two quarter-finals and semi-finals prior.
After that, it went downhill for the world number nine pair who crashed out five times in the first round.
The misfortunes continued to pile up for Lai, who tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from the Malaysia Masters.
The Kuantan-born arrived in Birmingham lacking sharpness and decent form, but she was not perturbed.
“Honestly, we felt the pressure after winning the Korea Open. There was high demand on each other to perform well. We couldn’t accept our mistakes and it became a big factor of our early exits from then on.
“I hope we can rediscover some momentum at the Commonwealth Games. My confidence has dropped with the recent results, but my enthusiasm to do well has never faded. So for me, the loss of confidence is not a big deal.
“I am confident that I will regain it when I start playing again. Getting Covid disrupted my plans, but life is unpredictable. I just had to accept it, move on and focus on my priorities.
“The longer you dwell on your misfortunes, the more time is wasted. You can be down, but do not take too long to recover.
“My aim is to try and reach peak condition. Malaysia has not achieved success in the mixed doubles for a long time, and I want to try and end that and create history,” she said.
Malaysia only won gold in the mixed doubles once, through Koo Kien Kiat-Chin Ee Hui back in 2010.
Lai made her Commonwealth Games debut in 2014, and helped the country clinch gold in the team event.
The mixed doubles event begins this Friday, as Malaysia face Zambia in their opening Group 4 match.