Except that she doesn’t.
“The job isn’t done yet, I have a lot still to do,” said the 23-year-old following her 12-21 21-17 21-18 win over the sixth-seeded world No.9 Han Yue, her first over a top 10 player in four and a half years.
Tipped for badminton greatness as a youngster, especially following her two World Junior Championships titles and Youth Olympic Games gold, Goh’s career didn’t really pan out the way it was meant to due to health reasons.
In 2019, Goh underwent a colectomy surgery, which involved removing part of her colon. The medication she was on meant she couldn’t hit the required levels in training, forcing her to announce her shock retirement two years later. She returned in 2022 but has not been the same player due to fitness issues related to her stomach ailment.
Against Han, having established an 18-12 lead in the decider, Goh was clearly out of breath. Her Chinese opponent sensed the opportunity and dragged herself back to 18-18. It was then that Goh decided to go for the jugular, firing three winning smashes to secure the result and end a run of nine straight first round eliminations on the Tour dating back to May.
Does this feel like a small reward for the sacrifices she’s had to make to have a career in badminton?
“I think so. I had so many first round defeats and faced a lot of difficulties. I’ve had to remind myself to keep going,” she said. “I’m staying calm and trying to implement what I learned from the previous matches, I’m still in the process of adapting.”
And what is the biggest takeaway from these testing four years?
“To keep going. The biggest motivation, we must create ourselves. Although there are many challenges to get through, just try. There will come a day where you get the rewards.”
The battle against Zhang Yi Man will mark her return to an HSBC BWF World Tour semifinal after the 2019 German Open, where she lost to Akane Yamaguchi. Goh leads Zhang 3-0 in the head-to-head but all her wins came before her surgery.
“I’m looking forward to the match,” enthused Goh. “I hope to recover and be ready because it will be tougher. I have so much catching up to do. I can’t stop.”
Stop she won’t anytime soon, with such resilience, even if Zhang plays spoiler in the last four. Go, Jin Wei!
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