KLRC returns – Goh Jin Wei says pro badminton club can help her qualify for 2024 Olympics

KLRC Bhd is back – and it has signed Goh Jin Wei (main image, left) and Soong Joon Ven.

Several other familiar names are also tipped to join the professional badminton club.

Goh, who met Twentytwo13 at Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur earlier today, said: “They were the first to approach me the moment I quit the national team. I felt they were sincere in wanting me.”

She has started training with Indonesian coach Nova Armada over the past week.

Nova is known for coaching Cheah Liek Hou since the latter was a teenager. Cheah won the men’s singles SU5 final at the Tokyo Paralympics last year.

“I would like to focus on my training first. I hope to compete in March,” said Goh.

“I believe in KLRC’s experience and capabilities. I have been training with Nova over the past week. So far, so good.

“The comeback … it was not an easy decision. My health is still my priority. I have to juggle between my body and training.”

Goh said regardless of the circumstances, she would still give “100 per cent”.

“There is no need for me to clarify any doubts. I will let my performance on the court do the talking,” she added.

Goh, who is expected to sign with a sports brand next week, thanked her fans for their continuous support.

“Some of them still watched my channel and cared about me. I cannot thank them enough,” she said.

On Sunday, Goh revealed her intention to represent the country again, but as an independent shuttler. The 21-year-old announced this on her YouTube channel.

The two-time world junior champion (2015, 2018) and 2018 Youth Olympic gold medallist announced her retirement last year, citing health reasons. The Penangite underwent a colectomy in 2019.

Meanwhile, Soong said he aimed to reach the top 35 in the world rankings. He is now at the 70th spot.

“It is possible with enough tournaments. I am looking at breaking into the top 35,” he said.

Soong was dropped by the BA of Malaysia (BAM) in 2020 and had been an independent player ever since.

“At first, it was difficult to arrange everything on my own. The Covid-19 pandemic did not help either.

“I hope things will be better this year.”

Soong will leave for New Dehli on Saturday for the India Open World Tour 500, where he will represent KLRC for the first time.

Soong said Penang-born Singaporean Loh Kean Yew was a good example of “anything is possible”.

“He was not even in the top 10, yet he defeated Malaysian shuttler Lee Zii Jia and later won the World Championship. He has shown all shuttlers have a level playing field.”

KLRC manager Sairul Amar Ayob said KLRC is eager to provide independent players with a platform for them to shine.

“When Goh announced her resignation, I called her the next day as I wanted to find out more about her health,” he said.

“I told her to rest first, and if she wanted to play, we would be happy to have her. She eventually made the call in late November.

Sairul, flanked by Goh (left) and Soong at Baba Ho Liao Restaurant in Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur this morning. Image by Hanafiah Nordin

“We would like to see Malaysians representing Malaysia and Malaysian clubs. We do not want another case like Loh, where our talent is now representing another country.

“What if Goh and Soong are lured to other nations?” asked Sairul, a former international.

“KLRC will be delighted if our players qualify to represent the country in major tournaments like the Thomas Cup and Uber Cup.

“We will like to work closely with BAM for the betterment of the sport.”

KLRC was incorporated in 2005 and provided a second lease on life to several local and international shuttlers.

Among those who had donned the club’s colours were former All England champion Hafiz Hashim, Ang Li Peng, Lee Tsuen Seng, Zakry Abdul Latif, Fairuzizuan Tazari, Gan Teik Chai, Tan Bin Shen, Julia Wong, Anastasia Russkikh (Russia), Yasmin Cury (Brazil) and Karen Foo Kune (Mauritius).

Former players featured in previous editions of the club’s magazine, FLick.

Olympian Cheah Soon Kit once served KLRC as its executive coach.

The club also produced 2011 world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkifli.

BAM president Tan Sri Norza Zakaria had welcomed independent players to don the national jersey.

Before the Tokyo Olympics last year, Norza, in a statement, had said: “We did not differentiate between the players, whether they were professional, or BAM players, they are all one Malaysian team.

“They worked hard and were committed, despite the difficult conditions. I am extremely delighted with their spirit and commitment, and I am confident they will deliver their best in Tokyo.”