PETALING JAYA: National para shuttler Cheah Liek Hou continued with his dominant form in the run-up to the Tokyo Paralympics by winning the Para-Badminton International for a fourth consecutive time in Peru.
However, the 31-year-old was given a run for his money before overcoming Taiwan’s Fang Jen-yu 21-17,18-21,21-16 in the SU5 men’s singles class (impairment in upper body) final at the Villa Deportiva Nacional in Lima on Saturday.
It was Liek Hou’s fourth straight title, having also won in Denmark and Japan late last year, and Brazil last week.
He also extended his unbeaten streak to 21 matches and this certainly augurs well ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics from Sept 2-6 where he is bidding to become the country’s first Paralympics badminton gold medallist. The sport makes its debut in the Games in Tokyo this year.
Liek Hou was pleased as punch to have consolidated his world No. 2 spot with the victory.
“It was my goal to get back to the top two in the world and I am delighted, ” said Liek Hou, who is a six-time SU5 men’s singles world champion.
“This will give me a good seeding and a favourable draw in Tokyo later.”
Liek How said the hard-fought win against Jen-yu was a wake-up call of sorts.
“I have never dropped a game against Jen-yu in my three previous wins, but he was on fire today. I had a seven-point lead in the second game but he managed to turn it around to force the rubber.
“It was a big lesson learned. I almost paid the price for underestimating my opponent, ” said Liek Hou.
Asked if he was worried about peaking too early, Liek Hou was unconcerned.
“I’m still not playing to my true ability yet. Fitness wise, as well as movement on the court, I still have plenty to work on.
“But this current progression is ideal for me. My goal is to hit my peak in time for Tokyo.”
Liek Hou is expected to enter four more tournaments – in Spain (March 10-15), Dubai (March 31-April 5), Uganda (April 27-May 3) and Canada (June 9-14) – as part of his preparations for the Paralympics.
He trains under 1996 Atlanta bronze medallist Rashid Sidek and Indonesian Nova Armada.
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