New Zealand’s top junior players are looking forward to taking on the world when the Barfoot & Thompson BWF World Junior Championships comes to Auckland later this year. We caught up with Jack Wang and Janice Jiang, two members of the New Zealand Junior Team who competed in Russia last year, to find out how they were feeling about the opportunity to represent the country in front of their friends and family.
Jack Wang, a left-handed 16-year-old from Christchurch, won his first national title in 2015 at the age of 12 and has since claimed many more regional and national titles. In 2019, he was crowned the Oceania Junior Champion in Men’s Doubles and later in the year made his first appearance wearing the silver fern at the BWF World Junior Championships in Kazan, Russia.
“It’s everyone’s dream to represent their country in their given field. As a player, I’m very proud to wear the silver fern and I will do my best to uphold the expectation that comes with representing New Zealand,” he says.
As one of the younger players in the 2019 team, Wang is hopeful that he will be selected to compete again at the Auckland event.
“I’m really working hard this year to earn my place in New Zealand Junior team. I’ve played countless tournaments around New Zealand, so I’ll be on familiar soil and hopefully we’ll have a good crowd cheering us on.”
Another player hoping to make the squad for the 2020 event is 17-year-old Aucklander, Janice Jiang. The winner of five national titles in junior events from 2015 to 2019, Jiang had a successful outing in Russia winning several important matches during the team event.
With badminton being a smaller sport within New Zealand, Jiang appreciates the special opportunity in front of her.
“To wear the silver fern on home soil is a once in a lifetime experience. We get to not only showcase our spirit on court, but also share our unique culture and friendliness off the court. My friends and family are looking forward to cheering us on from courtside, rather than waking up at 4am to watch the live-stream from Russia,” she says.
Both players agree the event is a huge positive for growing the game in New Zealand and inspiring the next generation of players.
“Any younger players who aspire to compete at international events should definitely watch the World Junior Championships in person – sitting behind the courts and being engrossed in the atmosphere is completely different to watching it on a screen,” Wang says.
“Seeing players they know compete in a world-class tournament really helps to demonstrate what can be achieved if they put in the work. I’ll be doing my best to inspire them,” Jiang adds.
The Barfoot & Thompson BWF World Junior Championships takes place in Auckland’s Trusts Arena from 28 September to 11 October 2020.
Photo Credit: BadmintonPhoto