Student of The Year (SOTY) 2017 Sportsperson winner Jasmine Leung Yuet-yee, 17, is polishing her techniques in the hopes of being Hong Kong’s next big badminton star. Last year, she competed against Olympic silver medallist Pursarla Venkata Sindu at the of Hong Kong Open Badminton Championships.
“The first half of the tournament was pretty tight,” said Jasmine, who, as a reserve, didn’t even expect to be called up for the preliminaries.
“I was super excited ... and I was just hoping to play for as long as I could to make the most of it.”
Although the Hong Kong team member did not win the game, she surprised herself at one point when she was leading 18-16 .
“I realised I was perhaps more capable than I had thought, and it gave me a huge confidence boost,” Jasmine told Young Post.
Jasmine first picked up a badminton racket aged three, influenced by her two elder brothers who played, and played other sports, as well. “When I was young, I played table tennis and swam as well ... But the greatest sense of satisfaction has always come from playing badminton.”
The recent Heep Yunn graduate said her becoming one of the top performers in her year group was thanks to her former secondary school coach Wong Man-hing, who died a few years ago.
She described Wong as an instructor who would focus on training the students who were most devoted to badminton rather than the best performers – an unusual approach for a sports coach.
“Back then, some coaches didn’t understand why he [Wong] gave me, a Form One student of average performance, more attention than those who were more talented,” Jasmine said. “Some even dissuaded my coach from spending so much time on me, or [indirectly] criticised me.”
Despite being looked down on, she turned the negative energy into motivation to do better, and became more focused and determined during training.
“Sifu [Wong] helped me improve my performance drastically within two years, as he promised,” said Jasmine. “I felt that all my hard work had paid off.”
A couple of years later, she made the difficult decision not to drop out of school in Form Four and become a full-time professional athlete at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, to the detriment of her training.
“My decision reduced my coach’s confidence in me, and deterred him from providing as many resources as he would to those who had committed themselves fully to badminton.”
Feeling that she was receiving less attention in the Institute than others, regardless of how hard she tried, Jasmine was dispirited, and she almost decided to give up.
“After talking to my class teacher, I became aware that I was probably just finding excuses to quit” to avoid the physically demanding training sessions.
While it’s been some time since Wong worked with her, Jasmine is still very grateful for his dedication.
“The only thing I can do to repay him is to consistently achieve high performances. That way, people will recognise the quality of his coaching.”
From August 19 to 28, Jasmine will represent Hong Kong in badminton at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, a rare opportunity for players of her age.
“I hope I will have the chance to play a game or two.”
Her long-time goal is to further improve Hong Kong’s badminton reputation, increase her world rankings, and, ultimately, qualify for the Olympics.
“I want to show people that Hong Kong is capable of not only playing mixed doubles or men’s singles, but also of doing well in women’s singles.”