Perfect role model

Former world champion Ratchanok Intanon of Thailand never threw a tantrum although she was exhausted from gruelling training sessions.

Instead, she stayed committed by giving all out in training.

And Malaysia’s No. 1 women singles shuttler Soniia Cheah is blown away by Ratchanok’s attitude and dedication in training after spending nine days with the Thai star at Ratchanok Training Centre in Bangkok recently.

Soniia and S. Kisona were with Ratchanok and the Thai team for a joint training stint after the Thailand Masters, which ended on Jan 26.

“It was an eye-opening stint for me. The Thais train three times a day. The physical training is tough. They are given one off day on Mondays. I’ve had the privilege of training with Ratchanok, ” said Soniia, who returned home on Feb 5.

“I saw how Ratchanok was absolutely tired during the training session but she somehow found motivation to keep going. I’ve learnt so much from her.

“She has the right attitude in training. I’ve also picked up some pointers from her.”

Soniia hoped to put into practice what she had learnt in Thailand at the Asia Team Championships starting on Tuesday in Manila, the Philippines.

“I hope to put up a stronger performance as the first singles player for the team. Our draw is tough but nothing is impossible, ” said Soniia.

Malaysia are drawn in Group A with Japan and Hong Kong.

Besides Soniia, the others in the team are Kisona, Goh Jin Wei, Eoon Xi Xuan, Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean, Pearly Tan Koong Le-M. Thinaah and Yap Cheng Wen.

“Kisona and the doubles players have also benefited from the training in Thailand. We are motivated to do well in Manila, ” she said.

Only the top two teams from the group will enter the top-eight knockout stage and only the top four teams will qualify on merit for the Uber Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark, in May.

Soniia is also hoping for a good show to strengthen her position in qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.

She is in the 18th spot in the Road to Tokyo ranking list and should make the trip to Tokyo without any problems. In the singles, the top 38 at the end of the qualification period in April get to compete in the Games.

“I’m looking forward to featuring in my first Olympic Games. I hope to stay injury-free, ” said Soniia, who has recovered from her hamstring injury that she picked up at the SEA Games in the Philippines in December.

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