Hongyan delighted at right choice

Hongyan delighted at right choice

Shifting loyalties

Pi HongyanIt was, however, difficult to miss the bitterness in the tone of the 30-year-old French player of Chinese origin.

Hongyan belongs to the early generation of promising Chinese players who left their homeland to play for other countries. Unlike in the case of world number one Zhou Mi, who retired after she was asked to make way for younger players and then moved to Hong Kong to resume her career, Hongyan was unable to break into her country’s elite pool, and was told she couldn’t crack the senior team. That's when she decided to move. Ranked number eight in the world, she is one of the most consistent players on the women’s circuit.

Hongyan credits much of her success to the rigorous training of her early years. “It was hard training which is helping me now. But I was bored of just training. So when I realised that I couldn’t make it to the national side, I had no choice but to move out of the country,” said Hongyan, after progressing to the semifinals of the World Badminton Chmpionship with a hard-fought win over German Juliane Schenk.

How is life in her adopted country? “It’s great, because I am getting to play in so many tournaments. That was my desire when I took to the game. But the disadvantage in France is that you don’t have many players to train with. In China, I had so many of them,” she pointed out.

After the Indian Open in March, this is Hongyan’s second visit to Hyderabad, and she finds the Indian cuisine irresistible. “The curries they make here are really tasty,” she noted. Hongyan was also in for a pleasant surprise when a handful of French expats came for her match and kept on cheering her through the match. “That was fantastic and I am very happy for that. There were lots of French guys and it felt good, especially whenever I was down. They kept chanting my name and it kept me going,” she remarked.

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