With under five weeks to go until the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, reigning Oceania Champion and Australian national champion, Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen, is travelling to New Zealand to compete in the North Harbour Open 2021 – a domestic New Zealand tournament.
Following her successful run at the VICTOR Oceania Championships since 2015 and a combination of tournament results in 2019, Wendy sits in a comfortable position as she awaits confirmation of her qualification for the women’s singles draw at the Tokyo 2020 Games. This would make her a two-time Olympian following her debut in Rio 2016.
The six-time Continental Champion was also a quarterfinalist at the YONEX-SUNRISE Nepal Int’l Challenge 2019, and competed at numerous HSBC BWF World Tour events throughout her campaign. Two thirds of the way through the Olympic qualification process, the global pandemic took hold and brought a sudden halt to life as we knew it.
Living in Queensland, she was granted more freedom that the stricter lockdowns of nearby states: New South Wales and Victoria. During the initial lockdown, Wendy was able to keep training from a ‘homemade gym’ which kept her physically and mentally in shape.
Recently, Wendy joined several other members of the Australian national squad at the Australian Institute of Sport for a weeklong training camp. Meanwhile, one of the more significant updates to her increased training efforts is the inclusion into both the women’s and men’s singles draw at the North Harbour Open 2021, starting on Friday 25 June 2021.
Due to the lacking ability to compete in regular high level international competition, Badminton Australia requested permission from Badminton North Harbour to allow Wendy to compete in the Men’s Singles event to provide her with an opportunity for a higher-level competition in preparation for the Games.
Fellow compatriots Gronya Somerville and Setyana Mapasa were also granted entry into the men’s doubles draw (as they were in the previous YONEX City of Melbourne Open). However, Melbourne suddenly went into a snap lockdown and the recent COVID cases in Sydney means that Setyana was not able to travel.
She will go into the event unseeded, pitted against some of New Zealand’s top men’s singles players. This is not the first time something like this has been done in the region. The coach that led Australia’s women’s team to the VICTOR Oceania Women’s Team Championship glory last year, Lenny Permana, also competed in the men’s singles event at a similar tournament in Australia when she prepared for her Olympic debut in 2004.
“Given the special set of circumstances that Wendy is facing, and to assist players to be as prepared as possible for the Olympic Games, Badminton North Harbour and Badminton New Zealand are delighted to make an exception for Wendy to enter the Men’s Singles event at the North Harbour Open in June” says Badminton North Harbour Chief Executive Officer, Glenn Cox.