Singapore’s Jia Heng Jason Teh is travelling to the TotalEnergies BWF World Championships 2022 in a combative mood after pushing two of the world’s best players to their limits at the recent Commonwealth Games.
Teh produced some of the best badminton of his career in Birmingham, winning four matches before taking eventual winner Lakshya Sen of India to a third game in a pulsating semifinal.
“I must have that fire to win,” Teh said as he looked forward to scaling similar heights in Japan.
“I cannot reach their level if I first don’t make sure I push them. If I play in my comfort zone I won’t be able to beat them, because I am not yet at their level, I am only climbing up to them.
“I need to improve my consistency and shot quality, and reduce my unforced errors.”
An understudy to world champion Loh Kean Yew through most of the mixed team event in Birmingham, Teh was left carrying his country’s hopes in the men’s singles following Loh’s quarterfinal elimination by Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong.
But after a punishing ten-day schedule, Teh struggled to complete his bronze medal match against India’s Kidambi Srikanth, needing on-court attention from the doctor twice in the later moments of the straight-games defeat.
“I had no strength, that’s why I fell down,” Teh said. “I had some cramps, nothing big. But I couldn’t support myself anymore.
“I think I did all I could. I gave my all. The only way forward is to work myself and become fitter. Be better at recovery. I will take this experience with me for the rest of my career.”
Born in Penang in Malaysia, the animated 21-year-old carries a reminder of his roots in the form of a large tattoo covering most of his left forearm.
“I have a shuttlecock tattoo because I am spending most of my time on badminton, and it says ‘family’ because I have experienced something bad outside sport which made me realise that family is really, really important to me. I will always prioritise them.”
Teh said he drew inspiration from his early rounds opposition at the Commonwealth Games, which included players from teams such as Barbados and Jamaica.
“There are a lot of countries with a lot of aspiring players, but I guess the level of play is restricted,” he said.
“Regardless of which country they face, they just try to fight and challenge the opponent. Their resilience and fighting spirit is something I think I can learn from.”