PETALING JAYA: Independent shuttler Low Juan Shen has not given up on his life-long ambition to become an Olympian.
This is despite his partner Chooi Kah Ming calling it quits last year, leaving him to start afresh to qualify for Paris 2024.
Juan Shen-Kah Ming were the fifth ranked doubles pair in the country and No. 32 in the world when the latter decided it was time to move on.
Juan Shen has now found himself a new partner in Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub.
Azriyn was also in the same predicament when Arif Abdul Latif hung up his racquet in January.
After they were paired up, Juan Shen-Azriyn did well in their first tournament, the Thailand Masters, when they stretched China’s world No. 21 Zhang Nan-Ou Xuanyi before losing 16-21, 21-15, 18-21 in the first round.
Unfortunately, they were unable to make further progress due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It was really frustrating that we could not build on the solid start in Thailand. Little did we know that was the first and only match we would play this year,” said Juan Shen.
“It’s been 10 months now, but we intend to stick together. We both share a common goal … to qualify for the Paris Olympics.
“We know the odds are heavily stacked against us but we are adamant to make our dreams come true.
“We’ve been training hard for our return to competitions, hopefully it won’t be too long.”
They have been training under the tutelage of former international Chew Choon Eng, who is also coaching Rio Olympics silver medallists Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying.
If international competitions are up and running next year, Juan Shen’s immediate target is to qualify for the World Championships in Huelva, Spain, from Nov 29-Dec 5.
“Qualifying for the world meet was something very achievable had Kah Ming not retired because we’re ranked in the top 30,” said Juan Shen.
“But I believe it’s not impossible for me to achieve this goal with Azriyn. Last year, he made his World Championships debut (Basel, Switzerland) with Arif and I’m sure he would love to give it another shot.”
Juan Shen has also vowed to continue building on his online business which he started during the movement control order.
He has been selling durian and durian-based products to make up for the loss of income as a professional sportsman.
“While the plan is to continue competing professionally, I also intend to keep my business going,” added Juan Shen, who has been actively promoting his products live on Facebook.
“It really helps me to cope financially during this tough times. More importantly, these newly acquired skills and knowledge would come in handy in future.”
Juan Shen has another reason to be upbeat with his future. He will be graduating with a Bachelor of Sport Management degree from Universiti Malaya.
“Words can’t describe how happy I am to finally complete my studies,” said Juan Shen.
“This degree will help in many ways as it is related to sport.
“In the event I pursue a career in coaching, I’m able to apply my knowledge in sports science.”