SEA Games: Youngsters raring to go

She is ranked 600th in the world, sixth best among Singapore's women's shuttlers and not old enough to own a driving licence.

But Yeo Jia Min, 16, along with Liang Xiaoyu, 19, will carry the Republic's hopes in the women's singles event at the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games here next month.

Games debutante Jia Min is also pencilled in for the women's team event, according to Team Singapore's final list of athletes released on Tuesday.

Jia Min, a Secondary 4 student at Singapore Sports School, said: "It will be a great opportunity for me to compete in both events at the SEA Games.

"To be able to compete in the singles is a great honour, and I hope to perform well to give back to the home crowd.

"I also really hope to contribute in the women's team event."

Jia Min and Xiaoyu have been selected ahead of Singapore's top women's singles player Chen Jiayuan, who is the world No. 43.

National head coach Liu Qingdong said: "As this SEA Games is on home soil, we hope to give our younger players more exposure and compete with the region's best.

"They are the future of the sport and I'm sure they will take this experience and develop from there."


The New Paper understands that Chen did not make the cut for the singles event during the Singapore Badminton Association's internal SEA Games trials earlier this year, although she will still be involved in the team event.

After the trials, Jia Min was selected ahead of higher-ranked teammates Tan Ai Ninna (world No. 308), Grace Chua (309th) and Crystal Wong (527th).

Xiaoyu is ranked 108th in the world.

While badminton has served up surprise gold medals - such as the women's team gold in 2003 and Fu Mingtian's women's singles gold in 2011 - it is unlikely to contribute to Singapore's gold-medal count this year.

Jia Min is among 11 shuttlers in the 20-strong squad who will make their international bow at next month's event.

But it won't be the first Games for Xiaoyu.

She won a women's team bronze at the 2011 Games in Indonesia, and competed in the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games and Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year.

She said: "I have participated in other major Games like the Commonwealth Games, but playing at home is a totally different experience.

"Home support means a lot to us. I hope more Singaporeans can come and support the team."

This article was first published on May 7, 2015.
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