Taiwan's Chou eyes Olympic badminton gold, even without a coach

It’s an unorthodox approach, but Taiwan’s Chou Tien-chen is hoping his decision to go without a coach will help him win badminton gold at the Tokyo Olympics.

The world number four has flourished since parting ways with a full-time coach in 2019, with his physiotherapist Victoria Kao filling the role of mentor, cheerleader and critic.

With Kao in his corner, Chou won his first Super 1000 title at the 2019 Indonesia Open, and lifted the Taipei Open trophy for a record third time.

Now Chou, who reached the last eight at Rio 2016, has set his sights on winning Taiwan’s first Olympic badminton medal.

“Taiwan’s strength has increased a lot, and there is a very good chance of winning,” Chou, 31, told AFP in an interview.

“I’ve grown and improved a lot since 2016,” he added. “I feel I have the chance to win a medal, even the gold medal.”

Despite a strong badminton pedigree, Taiwan is yet to bring home an Olympic medal. But the team will arrive in Tokyo at something of an advantage.

“It’s not like I am so great that I don’t need a coach or I don’t have anyone to teach me,” he explained, adding that the current arrangement suits him well.

“Everybody has something I can learn from  … this method works best for me,” Chou said, adding: “God is my coach.”


As Taiwan occupies an unusual place in the Olympic pantheon, Chou and his teammates will not hear the Taiwanese anthem if they win gold in Tokyo.

Despite being a de facto sovereign nation of 23 million people with its own borders, currency and democratically elected government, Taiwan’s flag and anthem are not used at the Games.

Instead, Taiwanese athletes compete for ‘Chinese Taipei’, under an Olympic emblem known as the “Plum Blossom Banner”. Their podium anthem is a patriotic song used for flag-raising ceremonies.

The reasons are both historical and diplomatic, as Taiwan is not recognised as a country by most other nations.

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