COPENHAGEN: This year’s World Championships may see the younger players grabbing the headlines.
Unfortunately, none of them will be Malaysians.
National singles coach Tey Seu Bock highlighted a few names that could be the stumbling blocks for some of the seasoned campaigners when the competition starts tomorrow at the Ballerup Super Arena.
Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen, Japan’s Kento Momota, China’s Tian Houwei, South Korea’s Lee Dong-keun, Thailand’s Tanonsak Saensomboonsuk and Taiwan’s Hsu Jen-hao of Taiwan are just some of the names that Seu Bock mentioned.
And all of them are between 20-24 years old.
Seu Bock said 20-year-old Kento was probably the most improved player.
“All these players may not go all the way to win but they have the potential to spring an upset. I see them as title contenders for the Olympic Games in Rio,” said Seu Bock, after a training session at the main hall yesterday.
“Who can forget Kento? His impressive display in New Delhi helped Japan win the Thomas Cup (in May).”
The 23-year-old Lee Dong-keun has also been snapping at the heels of the top players and his best achievement this year was reaching the All-England quarter-finals.
Both Kento and Dong-keun are in the same quarter with top seed and world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei.
Chong Wei will take on Dong-keun in the first round and may face Kento in the third round.
Former world junior champion Axelsen, 20, is also expected to ruffle some feathers.
Houwei and Jen-hao, who are both 22, are in the lower half with second seed Chen Long of China.
This year, Houwei reached the final of the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Finals while Jen-hao made the quarter-finals of the Asian Badminton Championships.