Yong Han eyes chance to shine in Laos championships

Yong Han in action during the boys’ singles final. — Photos courtesy of Buletin Mutiara

AFTER winning the boys’ singles title at the 2022 South-East Asian (SEA) Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championships, Penang’s Leonard Lai Yong Han has his sights set on another victory in Vientiane, Laos, next month.

The 15-year-old Chung Ling High School student is hopeful that Malaysia will send a team to the Asian Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championships and, if so, that he would be selected for the tournament.

His optimism is understandable following his exploits at the 2022 SEA Junior and Cadet Table Tennis Championships from June 17 to 22.

He took the SEA Cadet boys’ singles title, beating Ellsworth Le of Singapore 4-3 (7-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-5, 5-11, 11-4, 12-10) in a thrilling final in Bangkok, Thailand.

Besides the Cadet (Under-15 boys) singles gold medal, Yong Han also bagged a bronze in the doubles with Yew Yan Bin from Kuala Lumpur.

They were also in the Malaysian Cadet boys’ team that finished runners-up to Singapore in the team final.

For Yong Han’s father Lai Kong Yeow, 44, and mother Lim Choon Lan, 43, watching their son play and win the tournament in Bangkok was a memorable moment.

“We’ve to thank the coach for inspiring him to play his best,” Kong Yeow, a former national youth player himself, told Buletin Mutiara.

Yong Han’s coach, Sky Chin, is also very proud of the player’s success at the SEA table tennis championships.

“This is a good achievement for him. We did quite a lot of preparation for the tournament.

“What I like about Yong Han is his good attitude.

“There is still a long way to go, we must take it step by step.

“Most importantly, he needs to be exposed to more competitions to gain confidence,” Chin added.

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