Soniia Cheah is aiming to bounce back at the upcoming Olympic Games after having a roller-coaster year.
The women’s singles shuttler had to endure a flurry of setbacks, from continuous first round exits in all her participations, to being cut from the national team as a direct result of that.
However, despite not faring well, the independent shuttler still etched her name as an Olympian, making the cut to Tokyo as the highest ranked women’s singles shuttler.
She also swiftly found new sponsors to fund her Olympics dream, to which she aimed to make it count big time.
“All athletes their own problems, and it is the same with me. I am not playing for the fans or anyone else, I am going to represent my country.
“For me, that is the biggest honour of all. I know I cannot please everyone, it is difficult. I will just go out and give my best and have no regrets about it,” she tells Stadium Astro, also thanking her sponsors, telco franchise RedOne Network and glove manufacturer Top Glove, for supporting them.
“I approached them with a proposal and they were very supportive. It is a massive boost for me to head to Tokyo.”
A niggling Achilles tendon injury, compounded with the ongoing Full Movement Control Order (FMCO), dampened her preparations for the time being.
Without the comprehensive training facilities, Cheah has been training on her own, at a private court in a friend’s house.
Nonetheless, she is in good hands under the guidance of Indonesian Nova Armada, who is also in charge of national Paralympian Cheah Liek Hou.
If all goes well, the world number 35 will be back training at the Academy Badminton Malaysia early next month.
Ahead of the Tokyo Games, Cheah is not discounting herself from a medal finish, as far-fetched as it looks now.
Even though defending champion Carolina Marin misses out through injury, she is set to face an intense women's singles affair in Tokyo, as there are at least six shuttlers who could grace the podium.
“Everyone stands a chance. Of course the top players have the advantage, but nothing is impossible.
“I have been working hard on my physical condition to be a more complete shuttler. Stamina, endurance and staying injury free,” she added.