09 Jan Zarinah Abdullah
Zarinah was born on 12 July 1971, the third of four children. Her father, Abdullah Mohd. Attan noticed her talent after winning several school sport competitions. He initially introduced her to play the game of squash, which led her to play badminton due to its similarities. Her school coach, Teo Ah Huan held an important role in training her to become the best badminton player in school since she was 14 years old.
After completing her study in Mount Vernon Secondary School, she decided not to pursue two years of pre-university education with the support of her father. With her rising performance, she was determined that her future was in badminton.
She turned professional at 19 years old after undergoing intensive training in Jakarta, Indonesia and participating in several international tournaments. She became the first Malay woman with the highest achievement in badminton in Singapore.
Her performance attracted the attention of the Badminton Association of Malaysia. She received an offer to join the Malaysian team as her father was a Malaysian holding Singapore Permanent Resident status. She declined the offer as she was still young and wanted to focus in Singapore
In 1992, Singapore sent its first-ever Olympics representatives in badminton and fencing to the Games in Barcelona. Zarinah headed for Spain along with male counterparts Hamid Khan and Donald Koh.In 1994, she reached All England women’s singles quarter-finals, the best achievement by a Singaporean at the event. She won five Southeast Asian Games bronze medals. She participated twice in Olympics, twice in Commonwealth Games, and several times in All England.
In 1994, she was ranked fifth on the World Grand Prix. However, at the peak of her performance, she decided to retire after she got married in 1998. She was only 27 years old at that time. The reason for the early retirement was not disclosed.She became a badminton coach for a club after that.
After leaving badminton, she started a ticketing company in 2008 with her husband, Mohammad Salihin Sass Abdullah who is a German citizen. They moved the company operation from Singapore to Malaysia after three years. She became a Malaysian citizen after her father went back to live in Malaysia.