In a bizarre twist of fate two-time world junior champion and Youth Olympics gold medallist, Goh Jin Wei will be playing in the USD400,000 Perodua Malaysia Masters in the season’s opening world tournament which begins at the Axiata Arena, Bukit Jalil on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old Jin Wei is the first reserve in case of pullouts and will replace compatriot Soniia Cheah who has withdrawn from the Super 500 tournament due to a recurrence hamstring injury during training.

Jin Wei, although delighted to get back into “action” with the change of fortunes for and an early return to competitive badminton much earlier than expected.

Soniia sustained the injury during last month’s Sea Games in the Philippines and was forced to retire in her first-round match against Myanmar’s Thet Htat Tzuzar in the rubber game in the individual events.

This will be Jin Wei’s first tournament since June last year and less than three months after undergoing major surgery (colectomy) which had part of her colon removed.

The Penang-born Jin Wei had been undergoing rehabilitation and fitness programs after the surgery on Oct 14. The ailment kept her out of the Sea Games and she had to surrender her women’s singles gold medal. She also gave up hope of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics

On Friday, Jin Wei visited her former school SMK Seri Hartamas in Damansara in a meet and greet session where she gave out 120 tickets to the students to come and watch the tournament which has attracted badminton stars from all over the world.

Jin Wei has been given the medical green light to compete but she is aware of her physical condition.

“It is a good platform to assess how my body is recovering. I do not want to rush as my body condition is only 75 percent and will take it very easy. After a long layoff from competitive badminton, my world ranking has dropped.

“I want to get back into rhythm slowly as I have to start from scratch,” said Jin Wei, adding that she needs to play in more Super 300 and International Challenge tournament to regain her form where she was before falling sick.

Coach Datuk Tey Seu Bok was quick to point out that Jin Wei is not about “winning the Malaysia Masters” but her first step towards getting “the feel of the environment of a competitive tournament” for her return.

“Jin Wei should just go out and enjoy the tournament,” said Seu Bok.

Meanwhile, Soniia is disappointed that she has to sit out the first tournament of the season, more so when it is a home tournament.

“Yes. I am disappointed but have accepted the fact that I may aggravate the injury. I don’t want this to happen but I will be ready for the Indonesia Masters,” said Soniia. RIZAL ABDULLAH 

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