Goh Jin Wei must make up for lost time to live up to Lee Chong Wei’s prediction

Six years ago, iconic Malaysian shuttler Datuk Lee Chong Wei predicted that Goh Jin Wei (main image) could be a medallist at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

But Goh suffered several setbacks in recent years due to injuries and health issues.

Lee had spotted Goh’s talents at the national junior circuit when she was 10. They also shared the same first coach – Teh Peng Huat, the legendary maestro from Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

Then, the pint-sized Goh was beating girls much older than her, and she went on to win the world junior title twice – in 2015 and 2018.

Fast forward to 2024, many have forgotten just how good Goh was as a junior.

Although she created history in 2017 by winning the singles gold medal at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games, her achievements on the senior stage have been few and far in between.

However, Goh, who turns 24 on Jan 30, is now on the verge of qualifying for the Paris Olympics.

Goh is 19 in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) ‘Race to Paris’ rankings, three months before the end of the qualification period.

As per BWF guidelines, the ‘Race to Paris Ranking List’ on April 30 will be used to allocate 35 individual quota places to the highest-ranked athletes, respecting the maximum quota allocation per National Olympic Committee (NOC), or country, per event.

For singles, each NOC can have a maximum of two players in the draw if they are among the top 16 in the rankings, while for the doubles, they get two slots if their pairs are in the top eight.

Goh is almost certain to get a ticket to Paris, as the next highest Malaysians in the rankings are K. Letshanaa (No. 63) and S. Kisona (No. 85).

Goh, the 2018 Youth Olympics gold medallist, underwent colectomy surgery in 2019 and has not been the same since. She quit the sport in September 2021 before returning as a professional player four months later.

She had a poor 2023 season, losing in the first round in 14 of 21 tournaments, and her last competition was at the China Masters two months ago. She lost in the last 16.

Since then, Goh has worked hard on her fitness, and today, begins her quest at the Malaysia Open, the season-opener of the 2024 BWF calendar.

Goh will meet Taiwan’s Sung Shuo-yun in the first round. If successful, she will meet Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska or Japan’s Natsuki Nidaira in the next round.

There are six months left to the Olympics, and Goh can start her redemption by doing well at the Axiata Arena this week.

There is no doubting her racquet skills. Hopefully, Goh can stay healthy to fulfil her potential and go on to create history for Malaysia in the Olympics one day.

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