Forty-five years ago, just weeks after she’d won the inaugural BWF World Championships, Lene Koppen would become a qualified dentist. Dr.Koppen went on to win many more titles, including the All England and the World Cup.
As the 27th edition of the World Championships approaches, another ‘doctor’ will eye the opportunity to match Koppen’s 1977 title-winning feat.
Since the World Championships’ inaugural year of 1977, few active players in the prime of their career have achieved the ‘Dr.’ prefix to their names, either as a medical doctor, or through a PhD.
Which is why Tai Tzu Ying earning her doctoral degree from the University of Taipei is a big deal. The Olympic and World Championships silver medallist received her degree in June, before the Indonesia Open that she went on to win.
How exactly did she pull off the feat in the midst of a busy schedule as one of the world’s best players?
“I do spend a lot of time in training and I had to manage my studies as well. When I was not training, I would attend online class, so I tried to make efficient use of my time,” Tai said. “As my degree is related to sport, it helps in my training.”
As Tai was at the Indonesia Open, she couldn’t attend the graduation ceremony; a small event was held for her in advance, where she appeared in cap and gown. In her graduation speech, she said:
“Although athletics is very demanding, you must not give up your studies. By increasing your knowledge it will help your career in sports. You can use a more scientific perspective to solve problems you encounter. When you encounter difficulties, you can cry, you can be sad, but you must never give up. I believe that if you stick to it, you will never have any regrets when looking back.”
Chen Yi-Liang, director of the Graduate Institute of Sports Training, who was Tai’s supervisor for her Masters and PhD studies, was quoted by news agency SET News as saying: “In the past few years of mentoring Tzu Ying, I have found that she is very ambitious, responsible, self-disciplined, and is good at managing her time. Fortunately, over the past three years, many competitions have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Tzu Ying has used this time to actively complete her coursework. Tzu Ying’s achievements in technology and academics are entirely based on her own good attitude.”
Tai arrives in Tokyo with some strong performances behind her, having won three events – in Thailand, Indonesia and Taipei. The second seed is likely to run into Mia Blichfeldt in the third round and Nozomi Okuhara in the quarterfinals, with Chen Yu Fei or Ratchanok Intanon possibly awaiting her in the semifinals.