PETALING JAYA: Under-fire Cheam June Wei knew he needed one decent result to convince Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) selectors that he is worthy of a place in the Project ’24 that will take off next January.
And the 22-year-old delivered that result by ending his 19-month title drought and winning the Malaysian International Challenge in Kangar yesterday.
Backed by thunderous cheers from the home fans, June Wei rose to the occasion to beat China’s Ren Pengbo 21-16,19-21,21-18 in the men’s singles final of the six-tier tournament at the Dewan 2020.
June Wei was delighted to have added a second title to his Dutch International Challenge victory in April last year.
“This victory is a breakthrough of sorts and it has given me a lot of confidence, ” said June Wei, who was once touted as the next big thing of Malaysian badminton but never quite lived up to the expectation.
“It’s important for me as I have not been doing too well recently. I hope I can build on this and move forward. It may be only a small step, but if I keep progressing in the right direction, I believe the day will come, ” added the world No. 75.
June Wei was quick to pay tribute to coach Datuk Misbun Sidek and the hundreds of home fans.
“I was pumped up when I saw so many supporters at the hall to support me. They are one of the reasons why I won today, ” said June Wei.
“My coach (Misbun) was motivating me all the while and gave me some inspiring words when I was trailing 8-11 in the rubber game.
“The match was as close as it gets. I could not have done it without my coach and the fans.”
June Wei will have little time to celebrate his victory as he left for Gwangju last night to compete in the Korean Masters. Another good outing will definitely keep him in the national set-up next year.
BAM will announce their national squad line-up for Project ’24 – a four-year project aimed at winning gold at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games and making the final of the 2024 Thomas Cup Finals in China.
Meanwhile, there was no joy for the hosts in the mixed doubles competition as Man Wei Chong-Pearly Tan Koong Le went down easily 16-21,19-21 to China’s Dong Weijie-Chen Xiaofei.
Men’s singles: Cheam June Wei (Mas) bt Ren Pengbo (Chn) 21-16,19-21,21-18.
Men’s doubles: Hiroki Midorikawa-Kyohei Yamashita (Jpn) bt Liang Weikeng-Shang Yichen (Chn) 18-21,21-10,21-16.
Women’s singles: Wang Zhiyi (Chn) bt Asuka Takahashi (Jpn) 12-21,21-17,21-16.
Women’s doubles: Natsu Saito-Naru Shinoya (Jpn) bt Yulfira Barkah-Agatha Imanuela (Ina) 21-15,21-23,21-9.
Mixed doubles: Dong Weijie-Chen Xiaofei (Chn) bt Man Wei Chong-Pearly Tan Koong Le (Mas) 21-16,21-19.
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