Singapore’s top woman badminton player quits

Gu Juan (Pic: Straits Times)
Gu Juan (Pic: Straits Times)

Gu Juan, Singapore’s top women’s singles badminton player, has quit the national team. According to a statement from the Singapore Badminton Association, Gu Juan expressed a “desire to look after her aging parents and nagging injuries”.

The 23-year old shuttler is ranked number 22 in the world.

She will therefore not play any part in the Uber Cup finals in New Delhi from May 18-25 where Singapore is competing in the world team championships for women.

This is not the first time that Gu has quit the national team.

Gu, who hails from Jiangsu, China, first came to Singapore in 2003 under the Foreign Sports Talent Scheme (FSTS). She became a Singapore citizen in June 2007.

In 2008, she quit the national youth team with which she had won a bronze at the 2007 World Junior Championships. News reports at that time said that Gu, along with another naturalised citizen, Zhang Beiwen, quit because they felt the women’s singles chief coach Wang Junjie was not giving them enough attention in training.

However, about one and half years later, she was persuaded by the head coach to return to the team, which she did.

It is unclear if her latest departure is a permanent one and whether she will return to Singapore. It is also unclear what will happen to her citizenship.

The recruitment of foreign athletes by Singapore has been a bone of contention eversince the FSTS was introduced in 1993. The main accusation about the scheme is that foreign sportsmen and sportswomen are in a “nothing more than a mere economic transaction and exchange of services between him/her and his/her national sports association.”

“It is based not on a genuine desire to become a Singaporean and to embrace the Singapore way of life, but rather on the opportunities to compete internationally and the chance to reap handsome financial rewards from the Singapore National Olympic Council’s Multi-million Dollar Award Programme.” (Red Sports)

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