Yesterday, Badminton Asia wrote a piece on Asia Olympic Project (AOP) player Mahoor Shahzad from Pakistan. In the article, we highlighted the challenges she’s had in her badminton career in Pakistan but also her determination and amazing support she’s been getting at home. The article was written as a companion piece to Badminton Asia Development’s Facebook live event held on the 11th of July, that celebrated the amazing achievement of 4 of our AOP players, as they have qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 


This year, 4 talented players from 4 different countries have qualified. And they are: Thuy Linh Nguyen from Vietnam, Thet Htar Thuzar from Myanmar, Mahoor Shahzad from Pakistan, and Soraya Aghaeihajiagha from Iran. Each player had their own article that puts focus on their story and their experiences leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. 


Today, we are featuring Thuy Linh Nguyen in which she shares with us her preparation for the Olympics and the challenge she has to face there as she will be competing with the best of the best.


Below is the edited transcript of the discussion with Thuy Linh Nguyen held on the 11th of July: 


BA: Congratulations on qualifying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games! How are you feeling? How did you find out that you were going to compete in the Tokyo Olympics? Were you at home? Can you tell us how you react–how did your family react when hearing the good news? 


Linh: I’m feeling very happy because I qualified for the Olympics and now I’m training hard and I hope I will play well in the Olympics. 



BA: When did you start playing badminton?


Linh: I started playing badminton at 10 years old. 



BA: As an athlete, you must have always had “the Olympic dream” — when did it start becoming something that looks like “Oh, this is actually a dream I can achieve..”?


Linh: For the last 4 years, Vietnam has had 1 more women’s singles player that went to the Olympics and after seeing her, I dreamt that one day I also want to go to the Olympics too. I tried to train and plan to go to more international tournaments. 



BA: What are your goals and expectations in this year’s games?


Linh: I think all of you can see that in my group I’m with Tai Tzu Ying, the #1 in the world, and I think I will do well in every match I play and I will train and learn when I play with Tai Tzu Ying. 



BA: How has the Asia Olympic Project (AOP) helped you in this journey? 


Linh: I want to thank the development team because they’ve helped give me the chance to compete in the tournaments and they always ask (help) me with my plan in going to the Olympics. I’m very thankful. 



BA: How have you been preparing for the Olympics? 


Linh:  I’ve already been training hard, for around 2 months. Right now I’m in a group with the #1 in the world, Tai Tzu Ying. I want to play like her and hopefully, I can learn on the court with her. I hope I will play well on the court.



BA: What’s your last-minute preparations going to be like?


Linh: I still haven’t packed my bags because I’m still waiting for my clothes from my sponsors and I still have 1 week of training and COVID19 tests. 



BA: What do you think the Olympics is going to be like for you?


Linh: Now for me I’m just training hard every day and I’m ready to go to the Olympics. I will take care of myself and I hope I will play well in the Olympics, that’s what’s in my mind.



BA: How has your Federation been?


Linh: My federation is very happy for me. 



BA: Do you have any last words that you would like to share?


Linh: I also want to say thank you to everyone who’s supporting me and following me. Also thank you to the Vietnam Badminton Federation, my club, Badminton Asia, and AOP for supporting me. 




The AOP is very proud to have these 4 amazing players qualify for this year’s games. This is the most number of players to have qualified for an Olympic since the start of the program. However, identifying these talented players for the AOP has not been an easy task as there are several selection processes. First, the player’s national rankings are checked and if these players are seen as someone with potential, BA contacts the federation. The players are then invited to Malaysia to go through 2-3 weeks of training where they do all kinds of tests, including fitness tests, matches with players, and more. 


During this period, BA gets a better understanding of the players and only then will they be considered to be a part of the AOP. Once they’re selected, AOP provides them with several resources, for example providing them funds for overseas travel and a line of communication to the local federations for additional training and help. The players are also invited back to Malaysia to train further, giving them an environment that helps them stay competitive at an international level.


Additionally, if anyone reading is interested in applying for the AOP, please contact your federation first, and they will write to BA. Once the federation makes contact with BA, then the players will go through the selection process as well. 


The AOP is a program that hopes to help facilitate these players with resources in order to make their Olympic dreams come true. BA is very proud of these 4 players: Thuy Linh Nguyen, Thet Htar Thuzar, Mahoor Shahzad, and Soraya Aghaeihajiagha for never giving up and beating whatever odds they faced. They will soon start their Olympic journey in Tokyo, and BA wishes them all the best of luck and success in the games. 



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