Time to get shuttlers ready for Thomas Cup finals, says Choong Hann

With men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia, 23, and men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia, 24, and Soh Wooi Yik, 23, leading the charge, Wong Choong Hann admitted that the national team lacked squad depth heading into the prestigious tournament. — AFP pic
With men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia, 23, and men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia, 24, and Soh Wooi Yik, 23, leading the charge, Wong Choong Hann admitted that the national team lacked squad depth heading into the prestigious tournament. — AFP pic

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 ― Now that their Tokyo Olympic campaign is over, Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann is shifting his focus to help the national team mount a challenge in the Thomas Cup Finals in Aarhus, Denmark, in October.

Choong Hann said the Thomas Cup was their main priority now and that they would plan accordingly to help the national players peak for one of the most prestigious badminton tournaments.

With men’s singles ace Lee Zii Jia, 23, and men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia, 24, and Soh Wooi Yik, 23, leading the charge, Choong Hann admitted that the national team lacked squad depth heading into the prestigious tournament. 

“This tournament (the Thomas Cup Finals) will definitely be a stern test for the youngsters but it will help them gain experience,” he told a virtual press conference today.

Choong Hann, who helped Malaysia become runners-up in the 1998 and 2002 editions as a player, believes that the move to feature youngsters in the Thomas Cup Finals will surely benefit the national team in the long run.

He also believes the current crop of young shuttlers will be able to make an impact in the next two to three years and close the gap on Zii Jia and Aaron-Wooi Yik, thus, help give the national team more squad depth.

“(That means) whenever we have a team event in the future, we will have enough squad depth to challenge the best teams in the world. Our goal is to bring back home the Thomas Cup,” he added.

Zii Jia created a sensation when he won the 2021 All England title by defeating world number two Viktor Axelsen of Denmark 30-29, 20-22, 21-9 in the final in Birmingham in March.

Aaron-Wooi Yik, meanwhile, bounced back from a first-game defeat to bag the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics by outlasting Indonesian second seeds Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan 17-21, 21-17, 21-14 in a gripping 52-minute clash on July 31. ― Bernama

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