Cranfield badminton ace Harry Huang admits he couldn’t imagine doing anything else as he attempts to follow in the footsteps of his sporting hero Lin Dan and make it to the very top of the sport.
First introduced to the game through his family as a young child, Huang has been busy carving a name out for himself on court.
In 2012, the Wootton Upper School pupil not only won the U11 singles and doubles, but also triumphed in the U13 doubles and finished as runner-up in the singles.
Proving it was no fluke, Huang returned the following year to take the U13 singles title, while he secured both titles last year as well as the U15 doubles title.
It is not just on home shores that he has enjoyed success either, with U13 singles and doubles success coming at last year’s Danish Junior Cup, too. In February, he took team silver and men’s doubles gold at the 8-Nations tournament in France.
England are certainly enjoying a strong run of form on the international front, with husband and wife duo Gabby and Chris Adcock leading the charge on the world stage.
But driven on by the achievements of hero and two-time Olympic singles champion Lin of China, 13-year-old Huang can’t wait to join them on the senior circuit.
“The first time I picked up a racket from a young age I knew I would be interested in badminton. It just felt natural to me and from there my initial interest developed into a passion,” he said.
“My parents have always been supportive of me and they were the ones that influenced me to get involved.
“When I play the sport there are loads of things I love about it; the sensation you get when you hit a winner, or the feeling of adulation you have when you beat someone.
“But it also helps with the social side – you get to meet loads of new people who are interested in the same thing that you are, and you also get to travel.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to go to a few countries like China where I went to train, and France and Denmark for tournaments.
“I look up to Lin Dan who won the Olympic title twice. It would be great to follow in his footsteps and I want to get as high up in the game as I can.”
Huang is one of 100 athletes selected for the 2015 SSE Next Generation programme – a scheme that identifies potential Commonwealth Games and Olympic medallists of the future, providing them with financial help and mentoring from elite athletes like Olympic diver Leon Taylor.
And the badminton starlet believes being an SSE Next Generation athlete will help spur him on to bigger and better things.
“The scheme has helped me financially and given me the chance to have some of the better quality kits and rackets available; it has also helped me in terms of coaching as well to help me improve my game,” he added.
“The fact that I have been selected specially into the scheme has given me the motivation to go on and achieve more.”
He continued: “It has made me believe in myself – I have a new found confidence which should serve me well for future tournaments.”
SSE’s Next Generation programme partners with SportsAid to provide financial support and training to the sports stars of the future. Keep up to date with the latest @SSENextGen