SINGAPORE: Local badminton sensation Yeo Jia Min has been named the new women's youth number one in the latest Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings that were released on Thursday (Jun 8).
The 18-year-old overtook Malaysia's Goh Jin Wei, making it the first time that a Singaporean badminton player - in either junior or senior categories - made it to the top of the BWF's ranking system.
The Under-19 player is currently ranked 62nd on the senior circuit.
Yeo has been racking up impressive victories on the competitive circuit. Her professional title wins include last July's Yonex Sunrise Vietnam Grand Prix, as well as the Yonex Dutch Junior International crown in March this year.
She also won the Badminton Asia Under-17 Junior Championships title in 2015.
Yeo will next be in action for the senior Crown Group Australian Open later this month, as well as the Yonex Open Taiwan from June 27 to July 2.
Before heading for August's SEA Games in Malaysia, Yeo will also be playing in the Asia Junior Championships in late July.
The Singapore Sports School graduate said she was initially unaware of her latest accolade: "I didn’t know that I was actually the world junior number 1, as it was my parents who notified me."
"I feel thankful to see my progress from my training and competitions. So I think it’s encouraging to do what I’m doing to train hard and continue to strive to improve myself," said Yeo, who studies the playing style of world number 1 Tai Tzu Ying for inspiration.
Yeo's secret? Practice matches with male sparring partners at the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA), according to the junior top seed. "In terms of women’s singles, there aren't many for me to be exposed to in Singapore. Male players play slightly differently than the women’s singles players as they have the speed and power."
SPORTING ACHIEVEMENTS "COMMENDABLE": GRACE FU
Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu said she was "very proud" of Yeo. "Her sporting achievements at this young age (are) commendable, through her hard work and a good support system," she said in a Facebook post on Friday.
She noted that the Singapore Sports School, Singapore Sports Institute and Singapore Badminton Association have been instrumental in her journey as a rising badminton star on the world stage.
"I hope more youth athletes will be inspired by Jia Min's achievements. We will continue to support our aspiring talents, and nurture the next generation of sporting champions for Singapore," Ms Fu said.