Liek Hou plays down favourite tag for Paralympics gold

PETALING JAYA: National para badminton ace Cheah Liek Hou is keeping his feet firmly on the ground ahead of the Paralympic Games in four months’ time.

The 33-year-old has played down the favourite tag to win the SU5 (impairment in upper body) men’s singles gold at the Tokyo Games this year despite having an impressive run of late.

Liek Hou made it five victories on the trot and opens up a 26-match unbeaten run by winning the Dubai Para-Badminton International in United Arab Emirates on Sunday.

The world No. 2’s other four titles, dating back to October 2019, were secured in Denmark, Japan, Brazil and Peru.

Liek Hou’s fortune changed when he turned the table on nemesis Dheva Anrimusthi after snapping a five-match losing streak in Brazil in February last year and defeated him once more in Dubai’s final to show that he has now gained the upper hand against the Indonesian world No. 1.

The six-time world champion Liek Hou prefers to remain realistic of his chances.

“I’m not going to get carried away just because I have won my fifth title in a row, ” said Liek Hou.

“Not even a second win over Dheva makes me a gold medal favourite overnight.

“I can’t be too happy yet because I’m not sure if my rivals did play to their true abilities as the Dubai meet was the first for most of us after more than a year.

“The expectation will be higher but that is beyond my control.”

He wants to focus on his game.

“I just have to put all kind of expectations aside and not let the pressure get the better of me. I want to keep training hard and improve on my weaknesses, ” he said.

Liek Hou will have to wait for two months before he gets to face off Dheva and other rivals at the Spanish Para-Badminton International from June 21-27.

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