Malaysian wushu star Wong Weng Son could not have asked for a better finish to the year.
The 25-year-old exponent from Negri Sembilan was troubled by a leg injury for a good seven months of 2017. He finished with only two silvers behind teammate Yeap Wai Kin at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games in August.
But Wong’s determination and grit paid off richly when he bagged the biggest prize of his career (so far) – striking gold in the men’s jianshu (sword) category at the World Wushu Championships in Kazan, Russia.
Having also struck gold in the inaugural Taolu World Cup in China last year, Wong has affirmed his status as one of the best in his event.
But Wong, who is the fifth top Malaysian athlete this year after track cyclist Azizulhasni Awang, woman diver Cheong Jun Hoong, and para athletes Ziyad Zolkefli and Abdul Latif Romly, is just looking to keep his feet on the ground and work harder.
“I consider this year as the happiest for me ... although it was rather painful, too,” said Wong.
“I carried an injury for at least seven months. Even now I’m not really 100% recovered. It wasn’t easy during training. I had to tell myself to be strong every night while dealing with the pain.
“I’m not afraid of injury. As athletes we get that all the time. My biggest fear is losing motivation and giving up halfway. It was a mixed feeling when I got two silvers at the SEA Games, even though I was proud that we still took gold.
“That really spurred me on to work a lot harder. I always strive to reach the top in my sport and I will certainly continue to work harder to become even better.”
Having won all world level titles in his sport, Wong’s next target is to claim gold in the only event missing from his trophy cabinet – the Asian Games (Asiad) in Jakarta, Indonesia next year.
The only setback for Wong is that his events – jianshu and qiangshu (spear) may not be held at the Asiad.
Nevertheless, Wong believes that is no excuse to go easy on his daily regime.
“Of course winning gold at the Asian Games would be a target and I certainly hope to participate in at least three events,” he said.
“I will still train hard and I will strive to win at least a medal in whichever event I’m participating in.”
For now, Wong is just focused on staying in tip-top shape as he has no competitions until the Asian Games.
But there is no doubt that this champion is not slacking off as he prepares for another challenging year ahead.