Motherhood teaches Goh Liu Ying patience as Olympian turns commentator at Malaysia Open

Goh Liu Ying has been busy since hanging up her racquet a year ago after a first-round defeat at the Malaysia Open.

That ended a glittering 14-year career, highlighted by a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics with her long-time mixed-doubles partner, Chan Peng Soon.

In the past 12 months, Goh has become a wife and mother, an entrepreneur, an event organiser, opened a badminton academy, and is now ready to unveil an exciting new concept for sports lovers.

Speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing Malaysia Open, where she is a co-commentator, Goh said she is still very much in touch with badminton.

“This is the first time I will be commentating at the Malaysia Open, and it feels special,” said Goh, who has been in the booth several times in the past 12 months for various other tournaments.

“I have good memories of the Malaysia Open. It was here a year ago that I ended my career. What a difference a year makes.”

Goh, who gave birth to her son on Merdeka Day – Aug 31, 2023 – said she has become more patient since becoming a mother.

“My son is a great gift and has changed my life,” said Goh, who is married to a businessman.

“I used to be impatient when I was playing – just ask Peng Soon – but now, I have learnt to stay calm. My son has made me a patient person,” she added with a big laugh.

“I did not think of having kids before, but now that I have one, I would not mind having more.”

A month after retirement, the 34-year-old from Alor Gajah, Melaka, introduced a three-on-three badminton competition, and said she has something special planned for next month that would appeal to sports fans.

“It is exciting and fun, but challenging,” said Goh, without revealing too much.

“I am finalising the details and hope to unveil it next month.”

Goh, who suffered several injuries during her career, said overcoming them taught her to be resilient and more focused on her goals.

The worst period came in 2014, as she underwent surgery on both knees, sidelining her for 11 months.

It made Goh contemplate life away from the court as her world ranking dropped from among the Top 10, to 200.

But she worked her way back to fitness, and in 2016, in Rio de Janeiro, she and Chan won Malaysia’s first mixed doubles silver medal at the Olympics after losing the final to Indonesians Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir.

“Injuries are the worst, as they can hurt you mentally,” said Goh.

“You must be mentally strong to return to the top.

“If you are a national player, take care of your body and listen to its needs. If you require a break, do not hesitate to take one.”

With the Olympic Games looming large, Goh said she agreed with Lee Zii Jia that those who qualified for Paris should pick and choose their tournaments.

The Paris Olympics is from July 21 to Aug 11, but the qualifying period ends in April.

There are seven World Tour tournaments, including the Malaysian Masters in May, after the qualification period ends.

“It is wise to take care of themselves. There is no need to play in all seven of the World Tour tournaments,” said Goh.

“I used to get worried during the Olympic years, as I wanted to make sure I stayed fit, as it only comes around once in four years.

“Once you have qualified, play in enough competitions to maintain your ranking and focus on peaking in Paris.”

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