Short but sweet beginning


Great run: (From left) Choong Hon Jian, coach Teo Kok Siang and Toh Ee Wei posing with their medals after their mixed doubles triumph at the Polish Open.

PETALING JAYA: Mixed doubles head coach Paulus Firman (pic) is one happy man after newly-formed pair Choong Hon Jian-Toh Ee Wei made an instant impact at last week’s Polish Open.

Hon Jian and Ee Wei barely trained together for a month but showed their class in Gniezno by powering to the title without dropping a single game.

Paulus was particularly pleased with 20-year-old Ee Wei, who repaid his faith immediately after being offered a lifeline in the mixed doubles.

Ee Wei, touted as the next big thing in Malaysian badminton after winning the 2018 World Junior Championships women’s doubles silver with Pearly Tan, rejoined the national team last month after taking a short “break”.

She left the Badminton Association of Malaysia due to health issues in 2019 but was handed a chance to resurrect her career last July.

But she quit for a second time in January due to the lack of tournament opportunities caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I asked Ee Wei if she would return as a mixed doubles player and that I will help her rebuild her career, ” revealed Paulus.

“I told her if she joins, she must show commitment and discipline.

“Her style of play and attributes fit the bill in mixed doubles. I always think that she’s more suitable for the event than the doubles.

“She’s a good front-court player, very brave at the net.”

Ee Wei is no stranger to mixed doubles and even excelled during her junior career.

Her biggest accomplishment was winning a bronze medal with Chen Tang Jie at the 2016 World Junior Championships in Bilbao, Spain.

As for her current pairing, it wasn’t their first time as they had previously teamed up on an ad-hoc basis in the junior team.

They competed in three events but failed to shine including at the 2018 Asian Junior Championships in Jakarta.

Paulus, however, will not get carried away with his charges’ first senior title.

“I wasn’t surprised that they won considering they were taking on lesser-known opponents, ” said Paulus.

“It’s too early to judge them based on this one tournament. After all, I have only spent about a month with them.

“But rest assured, I will do my best to help them blossom alongside two others (Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See and Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei).”

Paulus is left with three pairs after the departure of seniors Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing last month.

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