ASIA OLYMPIC PROJECT GOES TO TOKYO: THET HTAR THUZAR
On the 11th of July, Badminton Asia Development held a Facebook live event dedicated to celebrating the amazing achievement of 4 of our Asia Olympic Project (AOP) players, as they have qualified for the TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS! This is the most number of AOP players we have sent in a single Olympic year!
As we know, The Asia Olympic Project (AOP) is Badminton Asia Development’s program that supports talented athletes from developing countries to improve their performance and qualify for the Olympic games. 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 Aghaei Hajiagha from Iran.
During the live event, we celebrated their achievements, and we got greater insights as well on how they’re feeling and how they’ve been preparing, and also their goals for this year’s Olympics. In this article, we are highlighting Thet Htar Thuzar’s answers to our discussion. Each player will have their own article that puts focus on their story and their experiences leading up to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Below is the edited transcript of the discussion with Thet Htar Thuzar held a few days ago:
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?
Thet: I was really happy when I found out that I qualified for the Olympics. I've been trying to qualify for 2-3 years. I’ll do my best in the games and I’ll make everyone proud: my family, friends, supporters, and fans.
I actually just knew I could qualify since last year before the pandemic happened, so my ranking last year was #27 before the games, but for this year I dropped to #29. Even though it went down it’s okay for me because I can still qualify and I’m happy and I let my training do everything (else).
BA: When did you start playing badminton?
Thet: For me, I just stayed playing when I was 7 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..”?
Thet: For me, I just started playing international tournaments at the end of 2017, and the one
who suggested to me to play in the Olympics and play international tournaments was my Indonesian coach. He said I had to play in international tournaments more and try for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. He also trained me very hard at the time, and now he’s back in Indonesia but I still train with my father.
BA: What are your goals and expectations in this year’s games?
Thet: My target is to try my best in every match I play, and at least play well in the group stage to get to the main draw.
BA: How has the Asia Olympic Project (AOP) helped you in this journey?
Thet: The AOP has really helped me, like with every tournament they really support all the players. I’m really thankful for them and the Badminton Asia team, and I will make them proud when I play in the tournament.
BA: What are the challenges that you’ve faced to get you where you are now?
Thet: I’ve been trying to qualify for 2 years, and it’s been a tough journey for me. I play a lot of national tournaments. Firstly, I play with my own investments. I don’t have sponsors, and nobody sponsors me for tournaments. After a year, AOP supported me and then after I achieved something in an international tournament there will be sponsors for me, so I try my best in every international tournament.
Sometimes I go alone to national tournaments, and sometimes I go with my father or mother. I feel like it was a difficult time for me when I go alone so when I qualify for the Olympic games I feel very happy. I am the very first Myanmar badminton player to qualify for the Olympics, nobody has done this before. I’m really proud as a Burmese player to be the first qualified player in the Olympics in badminton.
In the tournament, I will try my best in every way, and I want to tell everybody that no matter if you have difficulties in your journey, you just have to do it and win it.
BA: What’s your last-minute preparations going to be like?
Thet: Firstly, it will be training. Training is the most important thing before the tournaments and then I have to prepare everything because I will travel in the next 10 days but I already prepared for my travel. I’m really excited to go to Japan and play in the Olympic games.
BA: What do you think the Olympics is going to be like for you?
Thet: I think we will just stay in our rooms and just go into the halls only.
BA: How has your Federation been?
Thet: My federation is also very happy that I qualified for the Olympics. Only my father and I will go as a team to the Olympics, but it’s okay because we will try our best in Japan and in the tournament.
BA: Do you have any last words that you would like to share?
Thet: I want to say thank you to everyone who supported me from the start until now. And also thank you so much to the Asia Olympic Project and Badminton Asia Development team and everyone who supports me. I’ll try my best in the Olympic games and I’ll make everyone proud of me.
During this discussion, Badminton Asia got a glimpse of all the hard work and effort that Thet Thet had put every single year to be where she is today. She has dreamt of this moment since she started playing at 7 years old, and next week that dream will become a reality. Thet Thet spoke of her perseverance as an athlete and how the AOP has helped her fight to get what she wants.
Thet Thet mentions that in this Olympics the most important thing for her is to try her very best to succeed. Badminton Asia could not be any more proud of her and we wish her all the best of luck on her Olympic journey. Next week, Badminton Asia’s discussion with Soraya Aghaei Hajiagha from Iran will be posted. Stay tuned!