National shuttler Jaspar Yu Woon Chai (R) in a photo with World No 1 Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia at the Rio Olympics. Yu kicks off his Olympics campaign with a match against World No 12 Hu Yun of Hong Kong early tomorrow morning. Picture: Courtesy of Jaspar Yu
JASPAR Yu Woon Chai is ready to make Brunei’s badminton debut at the Rio Olympics today (Saturday 6.55am Brunei time).
The national shuttler will take on World No 12 Hu Yun of Hong Kong in their Group D opener of the men’s singles event at the Ricantro Pavilion 4. Yu will face World No 34 Pablo Abian of Spain the next day in the three-player group.
The 27-year-old, who arrived in Rio de Janeiro last Tuesday, had sparring opportunities with players from Singapore, Israel, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico and Cuba. “I’ve adjusted fine and I feel good,” said Yu in an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday.
“The venue is straightforward and nice to play in. Of course, it has a bit of drift or wind… But that’s normal for any huge stadiums so I have to adjust a little. “It is nice to spar with other players from other countries. This is the chance I get to experience more than the competition itself - the behind the scenes training and exchanging of views and tactics.
“Many people only see the serious side on TV but it’s always enjoying and fulfilling to speak and train with everyone behind cameras. “Also, the level of play is so much higher and faster than in Brunei… So takes some adjusting to get used to the speed,” continued the national shuttler.
Yu, who was assigned one of the three Tripartite Commission Invitation places by the International Olympics Committee (IOC) back in May, is the lowest ranked competitor at 407. When asked about his opponent from Hong Kong, he replied: “I’ve watched him a few times on TV and hope to do some more homework before the game.
“HRH Prince (Hj) Sufri Bolkiah (the Brunei Darussalam National Olympic Council president) and the chef de mission (Umi Kalthum Hj Abdul Karim) told me of their expectations, which is to give my best and not think about the end result. That is what I’m aiming for,” he added.
His coach and manager at the Olympics, Zuno Kartono Hj Ali, feels that things are going smoothly.
“Jaspar’s training and familiarisation at the tournament court are promising,” said Zuno, who who is also the Brunei Darussalam National Badminton Association assistant secretary general 1. “We’ve been training to improve accuracy, aiming and have the feel of making every shot.
“He (Hu) is a bit tall and an excellent player. We already watched how he plays and from there we practised on the court to see how Jaspar can counter his shot or get points. “Our expectation is that Jaspar will be able to give a good fight.”
He went on to thank HRH Prince Hj Sufri Bolkiah, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports and the Badminton World Federation for their support to send a national player to compete at the Rio Olympics. Yu’s last tournament, before the qualifying period closed on May 1 was the China Masters in April, when he fell 21-11, 21-6 to World No 3 and two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan in the opening round at Jiangsu.
He then kept himself busy by attending a two-week training camp hosted by the Badminton Asia Confederation from May 15-29 in Kuala Lumpur. Yu then went on a month-long training stint with the Yonex Japan badminton team in Tokyo.