National junior badminton player Cheam June Wei training at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium before the World Junior Championships begin on Monday with the mixed team event. - CHAN BOON KAI/ The Star
ALOR SETAR: Just who will line up for Malaysia in the mixed team event on the opening day of the World Junior Badminton Championships is anyone’s guess.
Cheam June Wei hopes to get the nod in the boys’ singles, at least in one match, when the tournament gets under way at the Sultan Abdul Halim Stadium here on Monday.
At the last edition, June Wei had the likes of Soo Teck Zhi, Soong Joo Ven and Lim Chi Wing ahead of him in the pecking order in the boys’ singles.
However, this time around, there is no denying world junior No. 9 June Wei his chance to prove himself alongside R. Satheistharan, Tan Jia Wei and Lee Zii Jia.
“Last year, I only played one match during the group stages. But I’ve gained more experience since then and I hope I’ll be given more chances to play this time around. I think I’m ready for bigger responsibilities,” said June Wei, who is also the highest-ranking Malaysian at the championships.
June Wei may just get what he wants as Malaysia are in for a tough opening day, facing Australia (3.30pm) followed by Uzbekistan (7pm) in back-to-back matches.
The 17-year-old Penangite, who has only been with the national set-up since December last year, made it to two consecutive quarter-finals in the singles this year at the Dutch and German Juniors in February and March respectively. However, he crashed out in the second round of the Vietnam International Challenge last week.
“Playing in a mixed team event is very different. The pressure is just as bad, if not worse, because you’re playing for each other,” said June Wei.
“That’s what I find most difficult about the championship, dealing with that sort of pressure. But we’ve got a good chance of making the last eight at least. There is so much to play for this year and we have to make it count,” he added.
Defending champions South Korea will take on Botswana in Group W1 on Monday, while Indonesia, last year’s runners-up, open their campaign against Sri Lanka and Canada. Eight-time winners China face Slovenia in Group Z1.