Li Li was 19 years old when she became Singapore’s youngest gold medalist at the 17th Commonwealth Games in Manchester in 2002—and Singapore’s very first gold medalist in badminton at the Games, too.
Achieving the medal was the culmination of 13 years of hard work for Li Li, who first learned the basic rules of badminton when she was only six years old and still living in China. Two years later, Li Li began her formal training and began entering junior badminton championships. These competitions were tough and demanding and they provided a strong foundation in the sport.
Singapore Badminton Association spotted Li Li’s potential during a badminton trial in 1997 and was offered a place on the team. Li Li began competing in several regional open competitions, and in the Asian Junior Championships, where she performed well and managed to qualify for the quarter finals in 1998. Four years later, as a member of the Commonwealth Games team, Li Li traveled to England to represent Singapore in the 17th Commonwealth Games.
Li Li gave an outstanding performance at the Commonwealth Games. Up against bigger opponents and a rival who beat her only days before in another match, Li Li’s talent and determination to succeed, helped her overcome the odds to bring back gold for Singapore.
In the 2003 SEA Games in Vietnam, Li Li clinched a gold medal as part of the Women’s Badminton Team. In 2004 she won both the Croatia International and the Iran Fajr International Women’s Singles titles. Although disappointed at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Li Li went on to claim a bronze medal in the Women’s Singles and a silver medal in the Women’s Team events in the 2005 SEA Games held in Manila. In the 2006 Asian Games in Doha, Li Li was on the bronze medal-winning Women’s Team. Training now for the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Li hopes to be able to improve on her successes so far and aims to bring back a medal for Singapore.