Hao’s that for a boost! Shuttler wins in Finland to raise Thomas Cup hopes

  • Badminton
  • Tuesday, 10 Apr 2018

PETALING JAYA: National singles shuttler Leong Jun Hao (pic) has refused to get carried away after winning the Finnish Open.

The 19-year-old’s maiden senior title on Sunday has certainly done him a world of good in his bid to earn a Thomas Cup debut in Bangkok in May.

Jun Hao is currently battling to impress the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) selectors for the fourth singles berth with the likes of Soong Joo Ven, Lim Chi Wing and Cheam June Wei – whom he pipped in the final in Finland.

At the moment, only Lee Chong Wei and Lee Zii Jia are assured of their places with Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin most likely filling in the third singles.

National singles head coach Datuk Misbun Sidek has made it clear recently that he would prefer to complete the singles line-up with BAM players and Jun Hao has surely just found himself in the driver’s seat with the victory.

But Jun Hao believes he has to keep the momentum going into the next two tournaments – the Dutch International which starts on Thursday and the Celcom Axiata Malaysia International Challenge from April 17-22.

“I don’t know if this win is enough to convince Datuk Misbun, but it was a good response to my second-round exit in Vietnam (International Challenge) last month,” said the 2017 Asian junior champion.

“What’s important is to build on this momentum and try to do well again in the coming tournaments. I have set a semi-final target in Holland and Malaysia.

“I try not to think too much about the Thomas Cup selection because it all depends on the coach at the end of the day. I just have to keep producing good results and the rest is beyond my control.”

Jun Hao had been knocking on the door for a victory at senior level several times this year.

He reached the semi-final of the Austrian Open in February and finished runner-up in the Thailand Masters in January.

Joining Jun Hao in Holland are June Wei and women singles competitors Lee Zii Yii, M. Thinaah and former international Yang Li Lian.

Malaysia are also represented at the China Masters this week.

The men’s singles challenge features Zii Jia, Iskandar and independent shuttlers Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren while Tan Wee Gieen-Shia Chun Kang and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik will be in the men’s doubles action.

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Sport , leong jun hao , badminton , finnish open


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