WANG CHEN – A new start for former world #1

Wang Chen is starting her new life in Hong Kong as a coach for the Hong Kong Team, after years as a player, for China National Team first before she […]

WANG.Chen-01-HKG-ST-AllEngland2010 copie

Wang Chen is starting her new life in Hong Kong as a for the Hong Kong Team, after years as a player, for China National Team first before she joined Hong Kong more than 10 years ago. She met Badzine’s correspondent Kevin Kung for an exclusive interview.

Photos : Kevin Kung (live) and Badmintonphoto (archives)

I will have my English lesson after lunch,” says Wang Chen when she starts her conversation with Badzine’s correspondent, with a wink. For now, the conversation will take place in Chinese. To be more accurate, as Wang Chen has always been on court. Precise. Sharp. But English is definitely on the cards.

When being asked about her coaching life after her this March, Wang smiles and stops to think for a while, “Actually I can’t tell the difference before and after my retirement. I started to learn English as I think the language can help me to do my coaching job when I lead the team in tournaments.

Wang-chen2I have two one and a half hour lessons at the Hong Kong Sports Institute every week. I enjoy the lessons and so far I have no problems in catching up the progress of learning.”

Before her conversion from a player to a coach, she attended a sports theory course organized by the Hong Kong Coach Accreditation Program, and became an accredited badminton coach after passing the exams.

My deepest regret: No Olympic medal

Wang has set a target for her coaching career and thinks this is a continuation of her player’s life which lacks one important achievement : “My greatest regret in my career is not winning a medal in the Olympic Games. I really hope that I can train up our local players to stand on the podium at the Olympics.”

On the up side, the team events were always a joy for Wang to participate in as she made a huge difference when she joined the Hong Kong Team.

Until then, the Hong Kong Team usually had poor performances in team tournaments, including the Sudirman, Thomas and Uber Cups.  Wang Chen’s arrival soon made the team become more competitive shortly after the turn of the century. “I normally played two matches in each team tie: one singles and one doubles.  My victories helped secure the advancement of the team,” she said.

Wang also pointed out her view on the team’s recent downgrade in the Sudirman Cup and not qualifying to play in final rounds of the Uber Cup. “This year I didn’t play in the preliminary rounds of the Uber Cup and I think the defeat was somehow expected.

wang-chen1At the time I came to Hong Kong, I was only 23 years oldNow our key player Zhou Mi is already 30 years old.  It is too demanding for her to play two matches every day.  The future of the Hong Kong Team is in our junior players’ hands. Though their ability and physical fitness may not favour them when comparing with main rivals, I am optimistic that they can have a bright future if they work hard and have a good foundation. I am glad that my basics are pretty strong, which helped me to elongate my career as I got older and older.

Local badminton legend

Badzine readers should not be unfamiliar with Wang’s history of playing since we ran another feature on Wang Chen HERE.  She is the local legend of badminton throughout years of her career. She is the first local winner of the Hong Kong Super Series in the 21-year history of the tournament as an Open event.  She is also the first Asian Champion for Hong Kong – a title she won 3 times but her career high was when she became well-known in the territory after winning the gold medal in the Asian Games in Doha, in 2006.

I was very nervous when I first represented Hong Kong in the 2002 Asian Games.  I didn’t speak to anybody during the tour and what I did was watch the videos of my main rivals repeatedly,”  Eventually, she was to enter history in the next edition, in Doha in 2006, beating her compatriot Yip Pui Yin in an unexpected final after the two Hong Kong upstarts had beaten, respectively, Xie Xingfang and Zhang Ning, the hot favourites from China.

Then, Wang Chen won the WANG.Chen-83-HKG-YL-WorldChampionships2007Hong Kong Super Series title, in 2008.  “It was amazing to win the Super Series title here.  I was injured and didn’t have systematic training. I missed the two Super Series events in Europe. When I looked at the draw before it started, I told my coach that I might lose to Wang Lin in the first round.”

Wang Lin had won 2 titles back-to-back, in Denmark and France, which were held a month before Hong Kong Open. “I continued to beat Judith Meulendijks, Saina Nehwal, Zhou Mi and Xie Xingfang to come out on top. I couldn’t believe it!  It just happened.

The Hong Kong badminton queen also shared who was the opponent that she was most afraid of: “Susi Susanti, for sure. I never beat her and our head-to-head record was 0-7. In my point of view, she got stronger and stronger every time she beat you. ”

What will Wang do besides her coaching and learning English? “I may take a course related to sports at the Peking University. It is time for me to learn more.

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