PETALING JAYA: Seasoned campaigner Liew Daren is grateful for a chance to settle a score in the Thomas Cup Finals.
The 33-year-old Daren, who left the national team four years ago, was a surprise pick as the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) named their best four singles and three doubles pairs for the Finals slated to be held in Aarhus, Denmark, from Oct 3-11.
The others in the team are Lee Zii Jia, Cheam June Wei (pic), Leong Jun Hao, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani.
For Daren, it will be only his third Thomas Cup Finals outing.
He played as the first singles against former world champion Lin Dan but went down fighting as Malaysia lost 3-0 in the quarter-finals to China in Wuhan in 2012.
His second Finals in New Delhi in 2014 was heart breaking as Daren had the chance to be the hero for Malaysia but he fought tooth and nail before going down in the third singles decider against Takuma Ueda.
Malaysia lost to Japan 3-2 in the final and the agonising wait for the Cup continued as Malaysia last won it in 1992.
“I’ve been given a chance to get it right. I would love to win it for Malaysia after the close call in New Delhi. I still feel like I owe it to Malaysia after losing that crucial point,” said Daren.
“I’m thankful to BAM for choosing me. I knew I had a good chance when I was invited for the motivation camp in Tioman Island, it was a close fight with a few others.”
It was a toss-up between him and Soong Joo Ven for the second singles spot but Daren got in because of his experience. Joo Ven had done well to upset Zii Jia during an internal competition at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) last month.
Daren said his selection spoke volumes about his own determination and hard work.
“I think everyone thought I was finished with my career when I quit BAM four years go. To be honest, even I was not sure at that time,” said Daren.
“I did not know whether I would make it or go downhill but I took a chance. I’m here today, on the verge of playing in my third Thomas Cup Finals because of my dedication and hard work.”
It’s another personal achievement for him.
Daren surprised everyone two years ago when the independent shuttler became Malaysia’s top performer at the Nanjing World Championships by winning a bronze medal.
He just hopes that the Finals would go on as planned as several teams have withdrawn due to concerns over the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re not sure whether the Thomas Cup Finals will go on as scheduled but we hope for the best,” added Daren.
At last year’s edition in Bangkok, Thailand, two years ago, Malaysia crashed out in the quarter-finals.
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