THE Penang junior badminton squad will be seeking to maintain or improve on their six-gold haul when the 100Plus National Junior Badminton Circuit Zone A second leg is held at the Penang Badminton Association (PBA) Hall in Bukit Dumbar from Wednesday to Sunday.
During the first leg held in Kota Baru last month, the Penang juniors entered a record 15 out of the 16 finals contested. They won in six events through Liew Jun Rong (Boys’ U-14 singles), Jun Rong-Kelvin Lim (Boys’ U-14 doubles), Teoh Le Xuan (Girls’ U-12 singles), Ng Eng Cheong (Boys’ U-16 singles), Le Xuan-Lim Sze Jin (Girls’ U-12 doubles) and Lim Chen Yen-Lim Ru Guat (Girls’ U-16 doubles) to be crowned the overall champions in the first leg.
With home ground advantage in the second leg, PBA are expecting similar results from their charges.
“After the impressive performance in Kota Baru, Penang need to maintain, or if possible, improve in the second leg,” said PBA secretary Tony Tan during the recent press conference to announce Penang’s hosting of the event.
“The pressure will be greater for the Penang shuttlers as they are are no longer the underdogs. I hope the Penang players do not let success get into their head by taking things lightly or look down on their opponents. It will be good if we can win more than the six golds won in Kota Baru.”
More than 250 players from six states – Kedah, Perlis, Kuala Lumpur, Kelantan, Perak and Penang – will compete in the Zone A second leg competition at the PBA Hall.
A total of 16 events will be contested – the Boys’ and Girls’ U-12, U-14, U-16 and U-18 singles and doubles competitions.
Tan sees Kedah, who also won six gold medals during the first leg but lost out the overall champions title to Penang because of a lower silver medal count, as the main challenger to the hosts.
“Kedah won all six of the finals their players contested in Kota Baru. It will not be so easy to fend them off in Penang. Players from the other states have also shown marked improvement and it will be an exciting competition.”
Players will be awarded points based on their achievements over the two legs.
The top performers from the Zone A and Zone B competitions will qualify for the National Junior Circuit GP Finals, which will be held in Kuala Lumpur in June.
On another matter, PBA president Dr Koay Ban Hing, who was also present at the press conference, confirmed that the Thomas and Uber Cup-bound national players would not be using Penang as their base for final preparations.
Initially, it was said that the Malaysian players competing in the Thomas-Uber Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25 would head to Penang for final tune-ups.
“I am sad to announce that the national players will not be training in Penang before flying off to India,” said Ban Hing.
“Among the requests from the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) was to prepare 10 courts in an air-conditioned hall for the national players. The only venue in Penang which fulfils that requirement is the SPICE arena.
“Unfortunately, the venue has already been booked for another event during the period needed for training. BAM is currently looking at other alternatives in the other states.”