Badminton at Orchard

Badminton at Orchard
FUN TIMES: Shuttlecock Man interacts with kids along Orchard Road.

Ahead of next month's OUE Singapore Open, three of the Republic's young shuttlers were out at Orchard Road yesterday doing their bit to promote the country's biggest badminton tournament.

The trio, along with the "Shuttlecock Man", took photos with the crowd and played a short game at the Mandarin Gallery.

The shuttlers would have been well aware of the fanfare outside at the Pedestrian's Night at Orchard, which saw the start of the countdown to the 2015 South-east Asia (SEA) Games here in June.

The US$300,000 ($406,000) Singapore Open will take place from April 7 to 12 at the Indoor Stadium and Elaine Chua, 18, the youngest of the shuttlers, is aiming to make the second round in the women's singles, after falling at the first hurdle last year.

She is after experience, and told The New Paper: "Winning is important, I never forget that, but I'd like to play against world class players. Even by watching them, I know I'll be able to learn and improve myself.

"I'm young, so even though I know I'll be nervous, I just want to do my best in front of the home crowd."

Hosts Singapore will be led by 2014 Commonwealth Games men's singles silver-medallist Derek Wong and women's doubles pair Vanessa Neo and Shinta Mulia Sari at the Singapore Open.

SEA GAMES

After the April event, the shuttlers will have the small matter of the SEA Games on home soil.

Singapore's players will be boosted by home support at both events, and speaking to TNP last night, men's singles hopeful Terry Hee, 19, said: "It's been great interacting with the crowd so far, although I think the 'Shuttlecock Man' is getting all the fame.

"It's great to see the crowd so receptive to us. I hope they'll support us not just at the Singapore Open but also the SEA Games."

Hee has been receiving a lot of encouragement from veteran shuttler Chayut Triyachat.

"We are quite close, he is my senior from school, and I really look up to him.

"When I asked him for advice he just said to stay focused on myself, train hard and not let the pressure of the competition get to me."

Along with 22-year-old Tan Wei Han, all three youngsters will be making their debut at this year's SEA Games, from June 5 to 16.

The badminton event will also be held at the Indoor Stadium.

Said Tan: "I've been training a lot for the Singapore Open but I'm not setting any target..

"It's the same for the SEA Games.

"I just can't wait to do my country proud and show everyone that I have what it takes to be good at this."

npsports@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Mar 8, 2015.
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