BUKIT JALIL: It is a rare sight to see a woman coaching her husband in any sport, but that doesn’t bother singles shuttler Eric Pang,
With his wife Yao Jie as his coach, veteran Eric of Holland is hoping to get off to a great start in the Maybank Malaysian Open at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Wednesday.
And perhaps with the husband-wife power combination, the 31-year-old Eric will be able to produce an upset in the tournament after having been involved in the game for 13 years.
“She retired from the sport last year and has been coaching me recently,” explained Eric.
Many men would find it hard to take instructions from their wives, but Eric is willing to put his pride aside in search of success.
“My wife is really supportive and it’s certainly great to have her around. We are really focused on doing our best in every tournament we enter and this will be no different,” said Eric.
Since migrating from China in 2002, the 36-year-old Yao Jie represented Holland for about a decade in women’s singles before retiring last year, having won four Dutch Open titles (2003, 2008, 2009, 2011) along with a gold at the 2002 European Championships.
She is now a coach and an ambassador for Dutch badminton whilst having her own training academy in her hometown of Wuhan, China.
Eric’s love affair with the sport started when he was six years old. His Singapore-born father, who was then a badminton coach in Holland, provided the inspiration.
“When I was young, I went for a badminton tournament. I remember watching the Indonesians playing with such flair and ease. Since then, I told myself I want to be on par with them and compete at the highest level,” said Eric.
He may not have enjoyed the success that he hoped for, but he is still driven by the passion of representing his country and the opportunity to play at the highest level.
Now, with his wife firmly by his side, he will be hoping for a breakthrough.
Eric will be playing against R.M.V Gurusaidutt of India in the opening round tomorrow.