What keeps Yip Pui Yin going?
“What’s important is the heart,” said the 34-year-old, at the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2021 in December, which was 16 years after her first World Championships in 2005.
“I still have the heart for badminton. that’s why I keep going on. It makes me want to continue. Because if I quit I won’t have a chance any more to come to play tournaments, or to stay on court. That’s why I want to go on until I cannot anymore.”
With the exception of Linda Zetchiri, Yip possibly has the longest tenure among active women’s singles players, having made her debut in 2003.
“My first World Championships was in California in 2005,” recalled Yip. “This time (Huelva) is very meaningful because of the lockdown for around two years and I’m old already. So maybe this time is my last. Many tournaments have been canceled and my ranking (No.62) is low. So I cannot play many of the higher-level tournaments.”
The World Championships was the only event Yip played in 2021. Her last full season was 2019, when she played as many as 20 events. The Hongkonger says her training has eased up, aiding her unusual longevity in a category where most players bid goodbye in their late twenties. Even while not training as a player, she’s involved in the sport as a part-time coach. It’s this enthusiasm for badminton that’s kept her going longer than nearly all of her early peers.
The Asian Games was where Yip made her first big impact, and it’s at the Asian Games 2022, that the Hongkonger wants to call it a day.
Doha 2006 had seen the relatively little-known teenager stun favourite Zhang Ning with her high paced jump-smashing style that took her all the way into the final.
Yip hopes for one last hurrah at the event in which she made her name.
“I’m not sure if I will continue (much longer), I need to see the tournaments I’ve been selected for. I want to play until the Asian Games. Because that’s where it started.”
Even while contemplating the end of the road, Yip knows she will continue to be engaged with badminton in her post-playing career.
“Maybe I will do coaching. Now I’m coaching juniors, part-time. Then I’m with a club in Hong Kong, so I will do something around coaching. Maybe I will also do something that’s not badminton.”
For now, her enthusiasm for competing overtakes all other considerations.
“Maybe I will go on. I want to play.”