KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s singles shuttler Cheam June Wei is determined to find his way to the top but there is certainly a lot of catching up to do.
The 22-year-old is ranked 82nd in the world but has shown that he can hold his own against the world’s top 20 players.
At the Thailand Masters in January, he pushed badminton legend Lin Dan to a decider before losing in the quarter-final.
He defeated China’s gifted world No. 19 Lu Guangzu and held match point against Japan’s world No. 11 Kanta Tsuneyama before losing in the decider at the Asian Mixed Team Championships in Hong Kong in March.
“I can give a good fight against any of the top players but I always fall just short of a win, so now I’m working on improving my strength and power,” said June Wei.
“I’m also in the same batch of players as Guangzu and Tsuneyama but because of my knee injury and lower back fracture in 2016-2017, I lost a lot of playing time.
“While I missed out, they went out and played in a lot of tournaments so they gained much experience during that time.
“Having played in more tournaments, they’re also better at controlling their emotions on the court. So right now I’m trying to catch up with them and get to their level.”
However, his form has not been consistent in the World Tour events where he has struggled to beat lower ranked players than Guangzu and Tsuneyama.
This year saw him making early exits at the Spain Masters and the Lingshui China Open. He also failed to get past the qualifiers at the German and Singapore Opens recently.
This has seen his world rankings drop from 69th in April to 82nd currently.
But June Wei, who was once touted as a star in the making based on his impressive junior performances in 2014-2015, believes he can one day catch up with his peers.
“I’ve the confidence to catch up with them. But I struggle in the big tournaments because the stadium is bigger where the draughts are stronger and the shuttle moves slower.
“I prefer to play when the shuttle is moving faster in a smaller stadium like in the International Challenge events.
“I need to work on strengthening myself to get more power from my shots and improve my endurance so that I can play longer rallies.”