As Li Dongjin prepares to compete in her fourth Asian Games, the Chinese player has taken on the added responsibility of coaching her national team.
Squash, which has appeared at every Asian Games since Bangkok in 1998, will once again be on the calendar, this time in Hangzhou, China, after the event was postponed by a year due to COVID-19.
The 19th edition of the Asian Games is set to take place between September 23 – October 8, with the first squash matches commencing on September 26.
After competing in the 2010, 2014 and 2018 editions of the Asian Games, the 31-year-old is looking forward to representing her country once more and is optimistic that it could boost interest in squash in China, which currently has around 50,000 active players.
“I am excited about it,” Li said. “I hope the squash matches can draw many viewers, especially younger people. I hope more and more youngsters will join the squash family.”
Li adds that the venue itself will likely get lots of attention at this year’s Asian Games. The squash competitions all take place at the state-of-the-art Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre, which has been nicknamed the “Crystal Palace” due to its eight dazzling glass courts.
“[The venue] is beautiful and fantastic, and it’s the best squash venue I’ve played at,” says Li, who played on courts around the world during a 10-year professional career in which she reached World No.72.
When quizzed about tourist tips for travelling players and fans, Li, who is from the nearby city of Shanghai, added: “To visit West Lake would be a nice choice.
“I’d also like to recommend trying the sweet and sour West Lake fish.”
The self-proclaimed Ramy Ashour fan, who is also a keen badminton player, has prepared for the upcoming event – where she and her teammates are targeting a first ever squash medal at the Asian Games – by partaking in both the Asian Individual Championships and the “Exciting Hangzhou” KINME Cup earlier this year.
Li – who has represented China at three WSF Women’s World Team Championships, three Asian Games, four Asian Championships, three Asian Team Championships and the 2014 Asian Beach Games – couldn’t hide her excitement about competing as part of the Chinese team again.
Li said: “The days with other squash players in the team [are my favourite squash memories].
“I hope all the players will enjoy the Asian Games and have a great experience in Hangzhou.”
“[I want to] to play my best and meet friends via squash.”
The 19th Asian Games will be hosted in Hangzhou, China, between September 23-08 October, with the individual, mixed doubles and team squash events taking place September 26-05 October.
Click here for the full player list, draws and schedule for the Asian Games.