NATIONAL athlete Jagdish Singh is a hockey fan. However, that’s not the sport he is good at.

 Jagdish, 18, is actually a shuttler in the national junior squad, and is currently the national junior doubles champion, along with his partner Low Juan Shen.

 He has loved the sport since his father started bringing him along to play with his friends when he was six.

 Even though he has won a number of tournaments, Jagdish is not taking it easy on himself. He trains up to six hours a day, and only gets one day off from training.

Jagdish Singh of BJSS/NS Boys under 18 .

 For a young person like Jagdish, who will be starting college next year, that’s quite the sacrifice.

 “Training now is very, very tough. You feel like dying,” he said. “Seriously, after training, we just go back, eat and sleep. And we have to be asleep by 11pm.”

 The most Jagdish and his fellow Badminton Association of Malaysia junior players ever do is go out for the occasional movie, or to catch a football match at a nearby mamak.

 Even when they do go out for mamak, they can’t eat any of the food, and they only order limau ais (iced lime drink).

 “Our diet is very strict. (The coaches) told us limau ais is okay, better than tea or coffee. But carbonated drinks are definitely out of the question,” he said.

 But for all these sacrifices, Jagdish is far from sure of a future as a professional badminton player.

 The jump from junior badminton into the senior set-up is notoriously difficult, and though Jagdish is realistic about his chances, he still intends to give everything he has to make the cut.

 “That’s why I’ll be going to college – my studies is my back-up in case I don’t make it,” he said. “But for now, I’ll be going all out.” — By Ian Yee

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