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Tuesday October 9, 2012

Young Wei Feng slowly but surely coming of age in international tourneys

PETALING JAYA: Chong Wei Feng may not be anywhere near the standards set by Lee Chong Wei but results in his last two tournaments have shown that he is slowly coming into his own on the big stage.

In the Japan Open last month, the soft-spoken Wei Feng played superbly to reach the last eight before bowing out to Chong Wei.

In the Taiwan Open GP Gold which ended on Sunday, Wei Feng produced another strong showing to march into the semi-finals before falling to eventual champion Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam.

And the Kedahan has attributed the steady progress to a change in his training programme.

For years now, Wei Feng and the likes of Liew Daren and Chan Kwong Beng had been under utilised by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) as Chong Wei’s sparring partners. As such, their careers stagnated.

It resulted in Wei Feng and Daren struggling to make their mark and the 24-year-old Kwong Beng, who is one of the longest serving shuttlers in the BAM, plunging from a year high 66th to 97th in the world rankings.

But recent results have been encouraging, especially for Wei Feng.

The 25-year-old has beaten several top players in the past three months, including Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat and Japan’s Kenichi Tago.

Now that they have gone from being sparring partners for Chong Wei to training alongside the world No. 1, their game has certainly picked up, especially Wei Feng’s.

What Wei Feng needs to do now is improve on the physical side of his game, as he had admitted that he wasn’t fit enough to last the distance in tournaments.

There is also a need for Wei Feng, Daren and even Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, who has been playing well after a disastrous start to the year, to find some consistency in their games and to avoid losing easily in the coming tournaments.

The others who showed their potential as world-beaters at the Taiwan Open were the young pairs of Chooi Kah Ming-Ow Yao Han and Nelson Heg-Teo Ee Yi, both former world junior champions.

But they are still a work in progress and national doubles coach Tan Kim Her, who has identified them as Malaysia’s title hopes in the 2016 Olympics, will need to bring them up to speed soon.

Returning women’s singles coach Wong Tat Meng will also have his work cut out following a poor showing by the Malaysian shuttlers – Tee Jing Yi, Lydia Cheah, Sonia Cheah and Sannatasah Saniru – in Taipei as none of them got past the second round.

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