For 18-year old Team Singapore shuttler Yeo Jia Min, her haul of titles and second place in the Badminton World Federation (BWF) Junior Rankings for women’s singles is only the beginning.
Yeo has been touted as a player with abilities far exceeding that of her peers in Singapore, and that might be because competing at a higher level was always on the cards for the junior shuttler, ever since her parents introduced her to badminton when she was seven years old.
“From the start, my parents were supportive of me playing full-time,” she said, recounting how her parents would ferry her to and from school and training sessions.
“We have always put badminton [as our] first [priority], but of course, [while trying] to do well for my studies as well.”
Yeo and her parents’ efforts paid off last July, when she won her first professional title at the Yonex Sunrise Vietnam Grand Prix – a career milestone for the spexScholar.
She went on to win two more championships after, at the U-19 Jaya Raya Yonex Sunrise Junior Grand Prix in September last year and the Yonex Dutch Junior International recently in March, bringing her to No. 73 in the BWF World Rankings for women’s singles.
Looking forward to the Singapore Open this week, Yeo told ActiveSG that she is excited to play at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in front of a home crowd.
“I’ll take it as a chance to see how the improvements and changes I’ve had in training is working [out], and to test out the [techniques] I’ve worked on, and also hopefully give the senior players a tough challenge,” she stated.
On her goals for the tournament, Yeo said: “There will be tough opponents, so I hope I will be able to win one [game] against the more established players, and I’ll give it my best.”
She will be competing in the women’s singles alongside fellow teammates such as 21-year-old Grace Chua. Top players in the world, such as Olympic women’s singles champion Carolina Marin and world No. 1 Tai Tzu Ying are expected to contest in the tournament as well.
“Although I’m still a junior player, [this is my] transitioning period from playing with junior players to senior players. It’s a different game. Mentally you have to be much stronger,” said Yeo, on how she has been preparing for the upcoming competition.
Come this August, she will also be looking to make her debut at the SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur, where she is hoping to achieve a podium finish in the women’s singles.
“For this SEA Games, if I really perform to a level I [believe I] can, I hope to at least get an individual medal,” she said.
However, medal or not, competition experience is the biggest takeaway for her, in order to scale greater heights in her career. Despite playing the sport for over a decade, she is nowhere near tired of badminton. In fact, she is looking forward to doing better in the future.
“There [are] always things to work on [in badminton], and improving [myself] every day is what motivates me.”
Catch Yeo Jia Min, and many other Team Singapore shuttlers live in action at the OUE Singapore Open
this week! Get your tickets for the matches, held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium from 11th to 16th April, here