Australia may be one of the powerhouses in rugby but badminton is slowly becoming a popular sport in the Ocenia country, thanks to Malaysian-born siblings Raj and Renuga Veeran.
The duo helped Australia, for the first time ever, qualify for the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals this year.
Raj, 24, and Renuga, 23, might be the first brother-sister team to feature in the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals although Malaysians Billy Ng and his sister, Sylvia, played for the country before but were only involved in the qualifying rounds.
The Veeran siblings have notched several firsts for themselves and Australia in their badminton career and they are determined to take their game to another level by the end of the year. This is the first time Australia have qualified for either the Thomas Cup or Uber Cup Finals.
Raj and Renuga, who hail from Kepong, will also be the first Australian pair to feature in the mixed doubles in the World Championships in Paris in August.
"We qualified on merit, finishing among the top 48 pairs in the world. This is a plus point for us. It is a big breakthrough in our badminton career," said Raj.
Raj and Renuga will also carry their challenge in this year's Commonwealth Games in New Delhi in November.
"It has been a fantastic year for us. We will be playing in the badminton majors. It is a dream come true for us. It has always been our dream,'' said Renuga, who, with Raj, moved to Sydney in 2003 to pursue their badminton career and studies. Raj is now a qualified accountant in Melbourne while Renuga is pursuing her diploma in education.
"We are very excited with our progress. We may not be in the same class with the top players in the world but we have done our (badminton) career good. Our mission is to go as far as we can, in badminton,'' said Renuga, who played for Malaysia in the World Junior Championships in South Africa in 2002.
The Veerans have also won several local tournaments in Australia and in New Zealand, apart from winning the Under-19 Australasian mixed doubles titles. -- BERNAMA