Yee Chun Leong
BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN
NATIONAL shuttler Jaspar Yu Woon Chai has set his sights on being part of the Brunei contingent for the 29th Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Malaysia later this year.
Yu created history in August after becoming the first badminton player to represent the Sultanate at the Olympics when he competed in the men’s singles event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“There has been talk of me taking part in the SEA Games. I'm the only badminton player nominated, and I have undergone the fitness tests as required,” said Yu in an interview with BruSports recently.
“I am also training as usual and my conditioning has always been great.
"I am doing my part to be the best that I can… Whether I will be with the national contingent in August (at the SEA Games), I leave that to the (Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports’) selection committee.
“My aim this year is to do the best that I can. I have set a few targets along the way, and I'll be looking to achieve as many - if not all - of them
“My short term plan has always been to be fit and sharp at all times, so training is very important.
“When my country needs me for tournaments and competitions, I have to make sure I'm in the best shape. When I have tournaments abroad, I have to be match fit and ready,” he added.
The 28-year-old has already competed in two tournaments so far this year.
He started off with the Victor Far East Malaysia Masters 2017 in Sibu, Sarawak, from Jan 17-22, when he received a walkover win over Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka of Indonesia in the qualifiers.
He then fell 21-12, 21-19 to Fikri Ihsandi Hadmadi of Indonesia in the opening round.
Yu also competed in the doubles event, teaming up with Indonesian Nathaniel Ernestan Sulistyo and losing 22-20, 21-14 to Malaysia’s Zulfaiz Zulkiffli and Zulhelmi Zulkiffli.
He then travelled to Bangkok for the Princess Sirivannavari Thailand Masters 2017 from Feb 7-12, kicking off his campaign with a 21-14, 21-16 victory over Napatarawong Sawasivanichakorn to progress into the top-32.
He was then stopped in his tracks 21-2, 21-12 by second seed Huang Yuxiang of China.
Yu teamed up with Nathaniel again in the doubles event and was edged 20-22, 21-16, 21-16 by the Thai pair of Thaptimdong Arkornnit and Weeraphat Phakjarung in the qualifiers.
“Looking back at the first two tournaments, based on results and playing form, I think there is definitely progress,” said Yu.
When asked on competing in the doubles events, Yu replied: “I've recently partnered up with Nathaniel from Indonesia in the mixed doubles event.
“We're both singles players, so we're just trying things out with doubles and see how we play together as a pair.
“We had a straight set loss in Sibu and then a three-game loss in Bangkok. Results show that we're also progressing in that terms, so we'll be looking to win the first round next,” he added.
Yu is also hoping that there will be more financial support for him to be contesting in more competitions.
“I'm still fully funding myself to international tournaments after the Olympics. I'm not too certain for how long I can continue to sustain myself, so I'm taking the financial challenges into consideration too,” said the national shuttler.
“I might have to take things slower, or the worst case scenario is to stop competing for a while.
“I will take it one step at a time.”