Midpeninsula Post

Meet Los Altos High’s national badminton champion

Los Altos High School junior Jaden Jin poses for a photo at Bintang Badminton Club. (Raj Virginkar)

Los Altos High School junior Jaden Jin isn’t much of a talker. He’s shy, listens to music at school often and enjoys playing chess in his spare time. When he gets on the badminton court, though, his racket swings do all the talking for him.

Jin currently trains and competes with Bintang Badminton Club’s team in Campbell. When he was only 11 years old, he placed first in singles at the 2018 U.S. Junior Nationals, making him one of the best badminton players under 13 years old in the U.S. He has been playing badminton since fourth grade.

“[I had to] be on the court, just try to adapt to the sport. I did quickly,” Jin said. “I find that to be some sort of talent that I never realized I had within me.”

Jin practices at least six times every week, and credits his success to his hard training and persistence. Teammate Lance Fuchia, who has trained with Jin for around eight years, described Jin as “laser-focused” during practices and always eager to pick up new concepts and improve.

“He always puts 110% in every single thing that he does,” Fuchia said. “He’s such a hard worker, never misses practice. He always goes into extra time, to additional practices, and he’s just someone that’s kind of always goes the extra mile.”

That strict dedication to his training, Fuchia said, is what sets Jin apart from other badminton players. Fuchia said Jin’s success at the Junior Nationals wasn’t from a physical trait — like his size or strength going into badminton — but rather the effort he puts in. 

Jin won several consecutive rounds even before his final victory at the Junior Nationals, which Fuchia said surprised his teammates and coach.

“I don’t want to say [his win was] a miracle because he did really work hard for it, but I don’t think anyone really expected it,” Fuchia said. “The reason why he’s so successful is because he puts in a lot more effort than all the other top players.”

Jin said his victory at the tournament only inspired him to keep going. It taught him just how hard he needed to work to reach the level of success he did.

“Not all things come to you,” Jin said. “You have to reach out to get them.”

Since then, Jin has continued to train hard each day even in the face of injury. For instance, in 2020, Jin didn’t miss a single practice even as he was simultaneously working through a hip injury that required him to take medicine to simply move. That year, he placed in the top eight nationally.

Jin said he’s driven by a need to “do better than yesterday,” ensuring that he makes the most of his time.

“I kind of have that mindset that this is just my junior career and I only have, like, two years left,” Jin said. “So what kept motivating me is that if I work hard in the next few years then I can basically look back … and not regret it at all.”

Jin plays a round during practice. (Raj Virginkar)

Jin said his diligence comes from his love of the sport — specifically, the control that playing badminton gives him. Jin has a speech impediment — a lisp — which made it difficult for him to communicate his thoughts when he was younger, resulting in teasing and bullying. But he found solace in badminton, an individual sport that allowed him to express some of those thoughts and feelings without embarrassment, he said.

“You don’t really have to talk that much,” Jin said. “You can just let your actions talk for you.”

Jin said he enjoys being able to work alone and focus on himself when he plays. However, he said he also relies on support from his family, team and coaches. Specifically, he said, training with and sparring against his teammates gives him motivation to improve.

Jin prepares to make a serve. (Raj Virginkar)

Fuchia said that the reserved Jin creates a positive impact in his team by “leading by example.” Fuchia said Jin has inspired him and his other teammates to improve.

“He’s really someone that everyone should be friends with,” Fuchia said. “He’s just that person which you can’t go wrong with being friends with.”

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