HAVING been away from home for nearly two weeks, one would expect S. Kisona (pic) to miss Malaysian food, particularly her mum’s cooking.
The first thing that the newly-crowned SEA Games women’s singles badminton champion intends to do upon arriving from Manila is head to a Korean restaurant to have a barbecue meat feast!
“I can’t wait to get home and treat myself to a nice Korean barbecue meal, ” said Kisona, before boarding the flight home yesterday.
“I love Korean food. It’s my number one favourite. For some reason, I always crave for it each time I’m done with a tournament.
“The best thing is I’m skinny, so I don’t have to worry (about gaining weight) no matter how much I eat.”
Kisona explained why she has developed a preference for east Asian cooking.
“I had my primary education in a Chinese school (SJK (C) Ma Hwa in Seremban) so my taste buds were tuned to Chinese food and later to Korean, but, somehow, not Japanese, ” said Kisona, who writes Chinese and speaks fluent Mandarin.
Having spent part of her childhood among the Chinese community, it is no surprise that Kisona has a Chinese name.
She is known as Ji Su Na to her teammates.
“Ji Su Na… the three Chinese characters don’t represent anything but in Tamil, Kisona means pretty, ” she quipped.
On her remarkable SEA Games success, Kisona is refusing to get carried away and insisted that it would count for nothing if she can’t build on it.
“Winning the gold isn’t going to change anything, ” said Kisona. “I must keep my feet firmly on the ground because there’s still a long journey ahead.
“I am still a work in progress. I’m waiting to see what my coaches have in store for me. The first goal is surely to improve my ranking. I am now ranked 104 so there’s plenty of catching up to do.
“I want to be ranked high enough to get into the World Tour tournaments.”
Kisona had been touted as a rising star since 2014 but a knee injury has held her back. She suffered the injury not long after retaining her title at the Malaysian International Series in Penang in November last year. She returned to action only in April.
Then, everything fell into place. A string of fine results saw her replacing the sick Goh Jin Wei in the individual event at the Games. She went on to surprise everyone with the gold medal.
Kisona won two titles, Hellas Open in Greece in August and Sydney International in September, as well as reach the semi-finals of the Malaysian International Series in June and the Bulgarian Open in September.
Coaching director Wong Choong Hann said Kisona’s feat was not “out of nowhere” and it was a result of hard work.
“Besides the top two – Soniia Cheah and Jin Wei – the coaching team have been putting in a lot of efforts behind the scene for the likes of Kisona, (Lee) Ying Ying and (Eon) Qi Xuan.
“A lot of credit goes to assistant coach Loh Wei Sheng, who has been instrumental in Kisona’s rise.
“With a small squad, we’re going to make every effort to push up the rest and narrow the gap on our top two.”