KUALA LUMPUR: Every aspiring shuttler wants to be like badminton icon Lee Chong Wei and youngster Ng Tze Yong is no exception.
But can the 19-year-old Tze Yong follow the same path as his childhood idol?
Based on talent, determination and humility, he is on the right track, at least for now.
On Sunday, Tze Yong, standing tall at 180cm, bagged his first senior title after beating former South Korean No. 1 Lee Hyun-il in the final of the Australian International Open in Adelaide.
Tze Yong won 23-21,5-1 after Hyun-il retired due to injury.
Still, it was an important moment for Tze Yong, who is out to gain a permanent place in the national senior team.
Tze Yong was roped into the team by men’s singles head coach Datuk Misbun Sidek after he finished school at the Bikit Jalil Sports School last year and he has been under probation since January.
“Winning my first international title is just the beginning, ” said Tze Yong, who aspires to be an Olympian.
“There will be many challenges ahead but the biggest hurdle is myself – if I put my mind to it, I know I can go far.”
Tze Yong said he has gained valuable insight training under Misbun and during a short sparring stint with Chong Wei before the former national No. 1 retired in June.
“Training under Misbun is tough but it’s good for a junior like me. I’ve picked up many tactical skills and my stamina has improved too, ” he added.
“Chong Wei is my role model. I’ve played against him and I’m fortunate to pick up a few tips from him. I just love his playing style.”
Tze Long knows the road ahead is long but has promised not to fall by the wayside like so many others.
“This sport have inspired me since I was young.
“I’ve to thank my father for encouraging me. Now, that I’m in the senior team, I want to go all the way, ” he said.
For now, Tze Yong’s goal is to improve on his world ranking of 558 to move into the top 100.
His next assignment is at the Australian International Series in Sydney starting tomorrow.