Ex-champ Kah Ming has regrets but new job is calming, too


New battery: Chooi Kah Ming is helping his family auto and truck service business after quitting badminton.

PETALING JAYA: Former world junior champion Chooi Kah Ming has regrets. And the biggest one was failing to fulfil his potential as a world-beater.

The 29-year-old, who quietly retired last year, has now revealed his disappointment at his own failure.

He had once been touted as the next big thing in Malaysian badminton. He was crowned world junior champion at the age of 18 when he won the boys’ doubles title with Ow Yao Han at the 2009 championships in Alor Setar.

But like many other world junior champions that the country has produced, he too failed to replicate the achievement after moving up to the senior ranks.

Kah Ming played with several partners but it was with Yao Han that he secured his career-best result – finishing runners-up to Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong at the 2012 Malaysian Masters. Their highest ranking was No. 26 in May 2013.

Without any outstanding results to show after that, Kah Ming eventually quit the national team in 2018 with Low Juan Shen, whom he had partnered since 2016, and turned professional.

The duo did make a superb start to their independent career, reaching the semi-finals of the Korean Open but they failed to build on it.

Despite winning the Laos International Series last year for their third title together (the other two were as national players), Kah Ming decided it was time to move on to greener pastures.

“After the Korean Open last September, I told myself, this is it,” said Kah Ming, who’s now helping to run his family auto and truck service business.

“I hung up my racquet with a heavy heart, but I believe I made the right decision.

“I’m in my late 20s, I could certainly play for another year or two but it is difficult when you make no progress. I feel demotivated, tired and there’s no more fire in me.”

Kah Ming was the last player from the all-conquering late 2000s batch of Malaysian boys doubles’ that dominated the World Junior Championships from 2008-2010.

The other winners were Mak Hee Chun-Teo Kok Siang (2008) and Yao Han-Yew Hong Kheng (2010). All failed to make the grade, too.

So, where did it go wrong? Is Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to blame?

“No, we have no one to blame but ourselves,” said Kah MIng.

“I think BAM gave us enough opportunities, it’s us who didn’t use them correctly.

“Back then when we were still young, we always thought we had plenty of years ahead of us. But the fact is that we have a very short window of opportunity, say four to five years. Once you miss it, that’s it.

“I would say I took things for granted. It’s very unfortunate. If I could turn back time, I may do better.”

Kah Ming finds his post-badminton career rather pleasing.

“I had been devoting all my life to badminton, now it’s time to contribute to my family business,” he said.

“We’re doing car and lorry repair services and also sell vehicle batteries. It’s been four months now, I’m pretty settled into my new life.”
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