KUALA LUMPUR: Para shuttler Cheah Liek Hou has finally defeated his nemesis Dheva Anrimusthi of Indonesia for the first time in two years en route to winning the Brazil Para-Badminton International title in Sao Paulo.
The 31-year-old Liek Hou, seeded joint third-fourth, battled for 58 minutes on Saturday to upstage the top seed Dheva 21-15,10-21,21-16 in the final of the SU5 men’s singles class (impairment in upper body).
His win came just a day after he stunned second seed Suryo Nugroho of Indonesia 28-26,21-14 in the semi-finals.
The win against two of his strongest opponents from Indonesia has put him in the right track for the Paralympics in Tokyo in September. Badminton is introduced for the first time in the Paralympics and Liek Hou can be Malaysia’s first gold-medal winner.
His last win against Dheva was in the final of the Irish Para-Badminton International in 2018. Before that, he had beaten Dheva in the final of the 2017 Para Asean Games in Kuala Lumpur.
But the Malaysian has lost all the last five matches in the last two years against Dheva.
The six-time singles world champion Liek Hou was thrilled that he has ended his losing streak against Dheva and thanked his coach Rashid Sidek for the achievement.
“It feels great to beat him after a long time, ” said Liek Hou, who failed to defend his title at the world meet in Basel, Switzerland, last year after losing to Dheva in the semi-finals.
“This is certainly a good start as the Paralympic Games is getting closer now.
“I really needed this win against both the Indonesians to regain my confidence as I had suffered a huge drop in form last year.
“I’m thankful to coach Rashid and his assistant for all the training and pushing me to be better. I want to keep winning and have a good seeding at the Paralympics, ” he said.
Liek Hou hoped that the National Sports Council (NSC) would continue to back him up.
“I’m grateful to the NSC for the support and I hope they will continue to help me in my journey to be Malaysia’s first Paralympic champion, ” added Liek Hou, who will head to Peru for the next international tournament this week.
“The Indonesians are not making the trip to Peru and I’ve a good chance to win another title.”
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