Badminton World Federation (BWF)

US badminton star Zhang Beiwen is crowdfunding her way to the World Championships in China

Liaoning-born racquet queen raises more than her target as she returns to country of her birth for Nanjing showpiece

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 June, 2018, 11:12pm

Could you imagine your country’s number one player needing to raise funds to make the World Championships?

This is exactly what happened to badminton player Zhang Beiwen of the United States, who needed the help of social media before she could fly to China for next month’s worlds in Nanjing.

And thanks to the support of badminton fans worldwide, it took the women’s singles world number 12 less than a week to secure more than enough financial support to make her trip possible.

Through the fundraising platform GoFundMe, Zhang has now raised US$6,700 for her World Championships trip, far beyond her target of US$5,500.

“I want to give a big thank you to all my supporters! I was very nervous before starting this campaign because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out but you guys have given me even more motivation to keep pushing towards my goal. I can’t believe you made my goal within six days,” said Zhang on the fundraising platform after meeting her target.

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Mainland-born Zhang has changed her nationality twice to follow her sporting dream. The right-hander, who will turn 28 next month, is originally from Liaoning.

She was recruited to play for Singapore at the age of 13 and was a member of the team when they won a women’s bronze at the 2009 Southeast Asian Games. But after falling out with the authorities, she moved to the US in 2013 and started playing for her third country.

But in the US, where badminton is not a mainstream sport, Zhang gets little support from the national sports organisations and has to rely on self-funding, mainly through her equipment sponsorship and prize money from competitions.

“I have many expenses, such as training, plane tickets, hotel bookings and tournament registration,” said Zhang in her quest for financial support last week.

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“Recently, I qualified for the 2018 World Championships; the first time in my career! However, I’ve come to the point in my career where my funds are not enough to keep me going, but with your help I can achieve goals that I originally could not have imagined.

“Your donation will not only mean a great deal to me being able to compete in this upcoming tournament [World Championships] but would also be a big step towards my dream of representing the US for the next Summer Olympics in 2020.”

After playing for the US, Zhang has come through the ranks and broke into the top 10 last year, reaching ninth in August 2017.

Her biggest win so far was the 2018 India Open when she defeated Rio Olympics silver medallist Pusarla Sindhu of the hosts in the final.