Myanmar's Thae Thae reaping the fruits of Badminton Asia's AOP
Thanks to Badminton Asia's Asia Olympic Project (AOP) 20-year-old Thet Htar Thuzar of Myanmar is enjoying a fine run with three titles in the bag so far this year and expect more to come from her.
Her latest title was winning the Mauritius International Series in Quatre Bornes when the seventh seed defeated fifth seed Finland's Airi Mikkela 21-10, 21-19 in a 50-minute match to add to the Uganda International Series and the Kenya International Series title.
Popularly known as Thae Thae in her country and the badminton fraternity, Thuzar's next stop is the Benin International Series in Cotonou later this week.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is her dream and Thae Thae has not given up hope of getting a Third World wild card entry.
She is currently 84th in the BWF World rankings for Olympics qualification with 2,500 points.
Under Badminton Asia's AOP the Business and Administration (BA Hons) graduate from the Myanmar Imperial College in Yangon has taken great strides in her badminton career and the Egypt International Series and was runners-up in the Yonex Sunrise Nepal International Series.
She is the undisputed badminton queen of Myanmar and has been the Myanmar national champion since 2011.
Thae Thae has also played in three Sea Games - in 2011 (Jakarta), 2013 (Myanmar) and 2017 (Kuala Lumpur).
"I am happy to be selected for the AOP as it is a big step for me to achieve my goals in my badminton career.
Under AOP, I get to attend training camps and other programs conducted by Badminton Asia," said Thae Thae who started playing the game at the age of seven.
"Without a doubt, the AOP has made me all the more determined to take my game to a higher level.
Myanmar's Indonesian coach Didit Suluh Patria hails Thae Thae's "desire and determination" to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and is impressed with her discipline.
"She had to divide her time between studies and training. Without fail she would train in the mornings before rushing off to college," said Didit, whose tenure as the Myanmar national badminton coach ends at the end of this month.
Her parents are former Myanmar badminton internationals Tun Tun Zaw and Win Pa Pa Tun. Dad Tun Tun is also a qualified badminton coach in Myanmar who also ran a badminton club in Thailand.
Badminton Asia's senior development manager Thana Arikrishnan is pleased that the Asian body's AOP is paying dividends, especially in third world countries.
"There is a lot of badminton potential in third world countries in Asia. The AOP is one way to unearth badminton talent in these countries and we will further improve on the project," said Thanabalan.
Muhammad Andy Ardiansyah (Badminton Asia's development executive) says Thae Thae is "hardworking and a fast learner" who goes an extra mile to further improve her badminton.
"She has a strong determination to succeed. This is a plus factor for her," said Andy.