Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Badminton News: Hong Kheng finally lands a title to remember

SEPANG: Shuttler Yew Hong Kheng was wearing the broadest smile despite arriving home after a 13-hour flight from London at the KLIA here yesterday.

Hong Kheng partnered Ow Yao Han to bag the world junior title for Malaysia, beating compatriots Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi in the boy’s doubles final in Guadalajara last Sunday.

The duo were given a warm welcome by a group of 70 students from the Bukit Jalil Sports School and also the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president, Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Salleh.

Champions: Hong Kheng (left) and Yao Han showing their trophy on arrival at KLIA yesterday.
It may be Yao Han’s second world junior boy’s doubles title after partnering Chooi Kah Ming to a successful mission in the championships in Alor Setar last year.
But 18-year-old Hong Kheng felt that the triumph on Mexican soil meant more to him as it was his first major title after two unsuccessful attempts at the Asian Juniors.

Yao Han-Hong Kheng lost to Indonesians Pratama Angga-Rendy Yohanes Sugiarto in the final last year. They reached the final again in the championships last month and were the losers against South Koreans Kang Ji-wook-Choi Seung-il.
“I did not get to play in the boy’s doubles at the World Juniors last year as the coach (Yap Kim Hock) chose to field me in the mixed doubles. I did not win a medal ... we only went as far as the third round,” said Hong Kheng.
“This win means a lot to me. I will no longer be eligible to play in the junior ranks next year and I was very determined not to end my junior career without anything significant. So it’s good to get this win together with Yao Han.”

Penangite Hong Kheng, who looks at Tan Boon Heong as his idol, said that their chances brightened after the top seeded Koreans Ji-wook-Sueng-il exited the tournament at the quarter-finals stage.
“We knew our chances were good but it was not easy playing our team-mates. They had always beaten us in training and we were trailing quite far in the early stage of the first game. But luckily, we managed to come back,” he said.

Hong Kheng-Yao Han, who won the Commonwealth Youth Games gold medal in 2008, are set to join the national back-up squad soon but will have to be resigned to the fact that their partnership will be split.

“We will leave it to the coaches,” said Hong Kheng, who has set his sights on playing in the 2016 Olympics.
Yao Han-Hong Kheng can look forward to sharing RM20,000 under the National Sports Council (NSC) reward scheme for winning the world junior title.

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