Mixed doubles ace fit to play in exhibition clash after palsy scare

High hopes: Malaysia is counting on Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying to secure one of the two tickets to the Tokyo Olympics in the mixed doubles event. — AFP

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian mixed doubles ace Chan Peng Soon is up and running again, just a week after a Bell’s Palsy scare.

The 31-year-old quashed any fears that he would be out for the long term due to the facial paralysis when he declared that he is fit to play in the Grand Match at the Arena of Stars in Genting Highlands on Saturday.

The highly-anticipated exhibition event features former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, Asian Games champion Jonatan Christie of Indonesia, Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, the 2016 Rio Olympics silver medallists, as well as former internationals Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin and Woon Khe Wei.

Peng Soon suffered facial paralysis on the left side on the eve of World Tour Finals in Guangzhou, China, a fortnight ago.

He could not shut his left eye and the condition also caused stiffness on his face. Still, he defied the odds to complete all the three group fixtures.

When contacted yesterday, Peng Soon said his condition had improved and he was back in training in preparations for Saturday’s event.

“It’s getting much better, I’m able to shut my eye now and it’s such a relief!” said Peng Soon.

“I would say I’m 50% recovered. I have no problem resuming my training and I’m all pumped up for the Grand Match.

“I’m just so happy to recover in time for the event. Many fans have bought ticket to come watch us in action and we must not let them down.

“Like all the fans, I’m just as excited about seeing my old friend Chong Wei back in action again (since his retirement in June). I can’t wait to play alongside him. It’s been a while.”

Peng Soon’s improving condition is certainly reassuring as the nation is counting on him and Liu Ying to secure one of the two tickets to the Tokyo Olympics in the mixed doubles event.

Peng Soon-Liu Ying, the world No. 6, are currently the Malaysian frontrunners but they can’t afford to miss out on any action with the race to Tokyo set to intensify starting next month.

The World Tour season restarts with the Malaysian Masters from Jan 7-12.

World No. 8 Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie and No. 14 Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing are the other two pairs vying for a place in Tokyo.

A nation can only secure a maximum representation of two pairs if both are ranked in the top eight at the end of the one-year qualification period on April 30.

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