Liang fully focused on reaching Tokyo 2020

The Olympics are regarded as the pinnacle of an athlete's career. What is to be learnt at the Games? Five recent Singapore Olympians tell The Sunday Times of their key takeaways.

After her debut Olympic experience in Rio, national shuttler Liang Xiaoyu has already set her sights on making the Tokyo Games in 2020.
After her debut Olympic experience in Rio, national shuttler Liang Xiaoyu has already set her sights on making the Tokyo Games in 2020. LIANHE ZAOBAO FILE PHOTO

Even though the next Olympics are still four years away, Singapore's top female shuttler Liang Xiaoyu is already full of belief that she can make it to the Tokyo Games.

The 20-year-old said she will now shape her training plans with 2020 as a clear goal in sight.

Barely two weeks after returning from the Rio Games, she told The Sunday Times: "These Olympics have changed my mentality. After this competition, I am clearer that the Olympics are my long-term target which I will plan for and develop towards when I come up with my future training plans."

In Brazil, Liang comfortably dismissed Frenchwoman Delphine Lansac 21-7, 21-15 before losing to South Korean seventh seed Sung Ji Hyun 17-21, 11-21 in the women's singles group stage.

On her key lessons, she said: "I know how to better prepare myself mentally to cope with the Olympics. I have to improve on my strength and the overall quality of my game."

She gave herself a decent evaluation for her first Olympics.

Liang said: "It was tougher than what I'd imagined it to be. It is different to hear the experience from others and to experience it yourself.

"The atmosphere was totally different from other competitions which I had competed in before. There were more people watching you play and all the top players were there.

"I was nervous at the start. My hands were shaking a bit when I played my first few points.

"But even though I wasn't too satisfied with my overall results, I felt that I did not allow myself to get too nervous until it affected my play. I felt that I was able to execute my shots well."

More importantly though, her journey to Rio has given her the assurance that she has what it takes to mix it with the world's best. And that she can worry less about Olympic qualification and start preparing for the next edition.

With her world ranking having risen steadily over the past year, she earned an Olympic berth after soaring from No. 120 last October to her current No. 30.

Liang recalled with a laugh: "Less than a year ago, I was ranked outside the top 100; did I think that I would be able to play in the Olympics then?"

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 04, 2016, with the headline 'Liang fully focused on reaching Tokyo 2020'. Subscribe