Sukma: Letshanaa back with a bang, eyes LA 2028

20/09/2022 09:23 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 (Bernama) -- Former National women’s shuttler K. Letshanaa is certainly back to competitive action after a nine-month break and ready to focus her attention on the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, after the Sukma.

The 19-year-old promising player who had to quit the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) fold due to a back injury early this year, staged her comeback with a big win in the first round of the 20th Malaysia Games (Sukma) badminton competition.

The Selangor ace just took 19 minutes to eliminate Yeap Phoi Lin of Kelantan 21-2, 21-13 at the Axiata Arena here, to set up a second round clash with Dyvylyn Saha Davincy Saha.

Talking to reporters after the win, Letshanaa, who shot into limelight after winning the national under-18 title at the tender age of 14 back in 2017, said her next big aim is to feature in the 2028 Olympics.

“Actually I feel very good to be back on court...getting the tournament environment and gaining confidence in competitive action. The injury really took a very long time to recover, but now I am feeling much better, on and off the court.

“I am going for the gold this time, after being eliminated at the last 16 in the 2018 Perak Sukma. The win will be crucial for me to resume my international career, as many thought I am not playing anymore after quitting BAM,” Letshanaa, who is now ranked 498 in the world, said.

Letshanaa, who suffered the injury before her Uber Cup debut in Aarhus, Denmark last October, said the injury got worse as she tried to challenge more superior shuttlers ranked among the top 30 in the team event.

Her last tournament was the 2021 Czech Open from Oct 21-24, where she advanced to the quarterfinals before returning to BAM for rehabilitation and eventually tendering her resignation in January.

“It was the biggest challenge in my life. My main reason to leave BAM was due to the injury, so I will get more time for recover and rest, but I will get back to the national team if I am given another chance,” she added.

For now, Letshanaa, who is currently training under her father A. Karupathevan and elder brother Jhotiswaran, will remain independent and set to take part in two tournaments in Australia next month, followed by another in New Zealand.

Currently defending on her own funding, she is planning to raise funds by seeking sponsorship and crowd funding for future tournaments, as she is aiming to play between 10 to 14 tournaments a year to rise up the world rankings.

“My best ranking was at the age of 16, when I was ranked 185 in the world (in 2019), before slipping to below 700 during the lockdown. I need to play more tournaments to break into the world’s top 100,” she said optimistically. 

Winning the gold medal in Sukma will certainly set her on the road to the National team.