After mesmerizing fans in March during her third YONEX All England Open victory, Tai Tzu Ying, like many of her peers, has readjusted to a life very different from what she was used to. The world No.1 opens up to BWF on how the last few months have gone, and how she has evolved during this period. Part 1 of a two-part interview:
It has been eight months since your All England victory in March. How are you feeling and how has life been during the pandemic?
For now, my condition is good and I have been focusing on training as usual. I’m planning to prepare for next year’s competition which starts in January and it will be a busy year again. I won’t be competing in any events this year.
We see on social media that you have been spending a lot of time in outdoor activity such as hiking. Would you like to talk about your relationship with nature and the outdoors?
I love outdoor sport generally. I would always look for outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling which are higher intensity; it makes me sweat a lot and train my cardio. Probably it is also because I dislike staying at home or indoors and sitting around all day. So I always look out for outdoor activities to occupy my free time, preferably in a less crowded area.
As a professional badminton player, a lot of your time, particularly during tournaments, must have been spent inside training halls, stadiums and hotel rooms. With this current situation, do you see a greater opportunity for you to reconnect with the outdoors?
Yes, there are more opportunities for me now to participate in outdoor sport and activities and travel to more places in my country, which I was not able to do previously. I think because my fitness and stamina levels are high, I will look to participate in higher intensity outdoor activity which makes me feel happy after completing it.
This has been an unusual period for everybody. What kind of difference has this period made to you, both as a player and as a person?
There is not much change, it’s just that I am unable to compete internationally. I’m looking forward to be back at international competitions again and getting back my competition rhythm. Missing out competition for a long duration like this, it is normal for me to lose some motivation in training and rhythm in competition too.
Other than badminton, what else have you been busy with?
We have been training badminton as usual and I have signed up for English classes. Our training centre has collaborated with a university where a teacher comes over and delivers the English class to us face-to-face. Each class lasts about one to one and a half hours and we have the class twice a week. I think my English level was just acceptable earlier so I hope that attending this class will improve my English.
What inspired you to learn English?
I would like to use it in my own way, style and feeling to interact with my fans using basic English. Sometimes when I’m translated, some of the key meanings of my message to fans were not fully interpreted. At the moment, I’m still able to engage with fans using basic English, but when it comes to more complex thoughts, it’s been challenging for me and I’m still trying to learn.
Part 2 of interview to follow