Goh Liu Ying – A new star breaks new ground for an old dynasty

The future looks bright for the charming and talented Goh Liu Ying.  She may appear shy at first glance but packs a lethal punch on the badminton court as the […]

The future looks bright for the charming and talented Goh Liu Ying.  She may appear shy at first glance but packs a lethal punch on the badminton court as the mixed doubles world is finding out.

By Xavier Lee, Badzine Correspondent.  Photos: Badmintonphoto

Widely touted as the next big thing in Malaysian badminton, Goh Liu Ying has steadily risen to the forefront of mixed doubles, just this week reaching her career high world ranking of 3 with partner Chan Peng Soon at the tender age of 23.

Their success is all the more welcome as it comes in a discipline that has not been a strength for the badminton powerhouse in a long time.  When Goh and Chan won the first Superseries title for Malaysia in mixed doubles this autumn in Japan, it was actually Malaysia’s first major mixed title of the millenium.

Goh hails from the picturesque state of Malacca – the third smallest state in all of Malaysia – having come a long way from her humble beginnings under the watchful eye of her father.  He continues to be a huge fan of badminton and his daughter.  Succumbing to injuries over the years limited his calling as a badminton star, but through young Liu Ying, he can be proud to see her succeed.

“Even when I was playing in the UK at midnight, he woke up to watch from home and always messages me afterwards,” Goh says with a longing smile.  Excitedly, she exclaims, “Actually, that reminds me, I must send him a message right now!” and proceeds to fire off a barrage of messages on her smartphone.

The support however, doesn’t just stop with her father.  With such bright inherent qualities of mind and manner, everybody seems to be her friend, though she discusses the most badminton with her partner Chan Peng Soon.

From the age of 15, coach Jeremy Gan took her on as his student and clearly believes she has the ability to become a world beater.  She will need to put in the hard work now though in order to cultivate her career goals and aspirations.

“I’ve worked with Jeremy for a long time, he is always teaching me to add quality to my game and he certainly knows how to talk a lot!”

Regarding the brace strapped around her right knee throughout the tournament in Hong Kong, she points out that it is an old injury, the anterior-cruciate ligament that needs to really be taken care of if she wishes to further her achievements and beat the world’s greatest.  She has lost to the top Chinese players on painful occasions before, but never relinquishes hope of overhauling her seasoned adversaries in times to come.

“I have beaten Indonesians, I have beaten other players and even the younger Chinese pairs but the top two Chinese are something else for sure,” she says assertively and truthfully.

Opponents like Ma Jin and Xu Chen certainly are tough; Goh has beaten them once but also lost four times already so the next target is to overcome them convincingly.  “They are probably the most rewarding pair to beat.”

A prodigious mixed doubles specialist, she made her Olympic debut at London 2012, one of hopefully more Olympic campaigns to come in the future.  It was without doubt a powerful learning experience but being able to go in without any expectation might be seen as a luxury, particularly because of her age.

“Of course I aim to better myself in the next Olympics but also try not to think so far ahead, just taking it step by step for now.” That is the philosophy that has got her to where she is now.  Regularly playing Superseries events for the past year is quite a big step up from primarily focusing on Grand Prix Gold events the previous year.

“Winning the Japan Open, my only Superseries title, was the proudest moment of my career so far, it makes up for a lot of the disappointment of going out in the semis or earlier rounds.”

In this day and age where the greatest badminton players have made the crossover into celebrity, fame and fortune, it’s straightforward to see the temptation in thinking beyond the immediate badminton career.  Perhaps she will consider her future after playing, “Lee Chong Wei has his own business now but I don’t think I will do that.  I think I will still be involved in badminton, somehow.”

Great things are expected of this humble and friendly starlet.  It remains to be seen whether she can shoulder the burden of hope from her home nation but she is not without belief or support, as revealed in her quietly confident character.  “Tonight we play a good Korean pair… well we’ve beaten them before so we definitely have a good chance.”

About Xavier Lee