Newly independent Malaysian shuttler K. Letshaana got off to a flier in her opening women’s singles match at the Malaysia Games (SUKMA) on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old only needed 19 minutes to beat Kelantan’s Yeap Phoi Lin 21-2, 21-13 in her first match in nine months, which was also her first action since leaving the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).

Without Goh Jin Wei, who pulled out from this event to play at the India International Challenge, the Selangor representative felt confident on going the distance and winning a gold medal.

“It feels good to be back, and to win. It took some adjustment playing after so long and in a big arena, but this was a good victory. I know I’m just back after a long time, but I am confident enough to target gold.

“With Jin Wei here it would have been a challenge as she is in a different class. But I think the level of this competition, which is made for upcoming athletes, is more even now,” she told Stadium Astro.

Letshaana left the national setup at the end of last year after a back injury derailed her career.

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From then, it was many trips to the rehabilitation centre to get to full recovery, and in the process she also shed six kilograms to get in shape.

Letshaana, now training under father A. Karupathevan and brother Jhotiswaran at the Flying Spirit Badminton Academy, is also set to compete at two international events in Australia and New Zealand next month.

But Letshaana knows she will need significant funds to get her career back on track, and she plans to go down the crowdfunding route to achieve that.

“I don’t have any sponsors, and one of the financial avenues I’m planning to take is through crowdfunding. But first, I must succeed at this SUKMA. Many fans out there think I’m no longer active in badminton after my injury. They need to know I’m back,” she added.

One of the biggest upsets on the first day was the exit of national back-up shuttler Lim Chong King to Chia Jeng Hon, who won 21-8, 21-16.

But several other national shuttlers all came through comfortably, notably Toh Ee Wei-Yap Ling (women’s doubles) and Lee Shun Yang (men’s singles).