Tai Tzu-ying reveals future amid retirement speculation

World number one badminton player had been expected to quit this year and has now spoken about her plans

By ZK Goh

Are we about to see the badminton world number one retire?

She is still only 26, but Chinese Taipei's Tai Tzu-ying has long suggested she would retire after the 2020 season. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic throwing the international badminton calendar into disarray, does that mean we have seen the last of Tai?

Not just yet. Speaking on the BWF's Badminton Unlimited feature, the shuttler from Kaohsiung says that, much like many other events, her retirement has been postponed for now.

"I will play until the end of next season before I revisit the decision. As of now I want to finish next season's schedule," she said.

Jokingly, she added: "With no competition ongoing right now, that means there's less media exposure – I hope people won't forget about me!"

Different training

An introvert by nature, Tai admitted that when the pandemic broke out, new restrictions on movement and quarantines that were introduced did not change her routine much.

"We can still train as normal, we're just not going out due to concerns about the virus so I'm staying at home. It doesn't affect me that much as I normally mostly stay home anyway, just watching TV series and doing jigsaw puzzles."

While her daily routine hasn't changed – she practises twice a day – the type of training she does has been adjusted to suit the circumstances.

"I leave the house at 7am to start training at 8:30 and it ends around 11 am, so I take lunch and an afternoon rest around then," Tai explained, describing what a regular day is like for her.

"Training continues in the afternoon at around 2 or 3 pm, until 5 or 6 pm when it's dinner time.

"Right now, without a hectic competition calendar I'm training a bit lighter and more relaxed. There's more training away from the court, such as working on agility or playing other games, like going to the beach to play ball games.

"I quite enjoy it because we've never had the time to do this before," she noted.

Olympic dreams

Tai first became world number one in December 2016, and since then has gone on to set the record for longest time spent as women's singles world number one (in non-consecutive spells).

However, despite her many successes, she has never won a major senior international medal at either the World Championships, Uber Cup, Sudirman Cup, or Olympic Games.

In singles, she has never made it past the quarter-finals, with five World Championships eliminations coming at that stage. At London 2012 and Rio 2016, she lost both times in the round of 16.

Now, with a year to go to the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Tai is relishing a new chance.

"I didn't have a problem with (postponement). I can use this time as a period of rest because it's been a long and tight schedule of high-level competition.

"It's a good time to rest and have even more time to prepare (for the Olympics)."