KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s doubles ace Soh Wooi Yik believes he has already come of age and is game for a prominent role at the forthcoming major team events, starting with the Sudirman Cup in Vaanta, Finland, from Sept 26-Oct 3.
Wooi Yik, 23, was already ranked the national No. 1 with Aaron Chia during the previous edition in Nanning, China, in 2019, but he managed just one appearance.
Wooi Yik and Aaron, the All-England finalists that year, put up a credible show before going down in three games to then reigning world champions Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen in Malaysia’s 5-0 defeat to China in the group stage.
However, it turned out to be Wooi Yik’s only match of his debut campaign, as the coaches had placed their faith instead in the scratch combination of Aaron and Teo Ee Yi in the crunch tie against India.
Aaron-Ee Yi duly delivered to inspire Malaysia to a 3-2 win after beating Manu Attri-B. Sumeeth Reddy which sent the team into the quarter-finals.
In the last eight, it was the second-ranked Ee Yi and Ong Yew Sin who were preferred over Aaron-Wooi Yik as Malaysia went down 3-0 to Japan.
Wooi Yik revealed that the reason he was not fielded against India was because he had opted to be left out.
“During the team meeting, I actually requested the coach (Paulus Firman) to leave me out (in the do-or-die tie against India) because I wasn’t confident,” explained Wooi Yik.
“That’s why the team decided to go with Aaron-Ee Yi. Aaron had previously formed a scratch partnership with Ee Yi at the (2018) Thomas Cup, and they did well then.
“I managed to play one match against China because the coach wanted me to gain experience. Otherwise, Aaron would have played with Ee Yi earlier on.”
Wooi Yik certainly has come a long way since then.
Now the world No. 8, Wooi Yik and Aaron have established themselves as one of the pairs to beat by winning bronze at the Tokyo Olympics.
Armed with the experience, Wooi Yik said the time has come for him to take the lead alongside Aaron and Lee Zii Jia.
“Now we have a responsibility to lead on and off the court. We have to communicate with our team, to keep the team spirit high, that’s very important,” he said.
For the Sudirman Cup, Malaysia have been drawn in Group D with Japan, England and Egypt.
Wooi Yik was among the six Kuala Lumpur-born shuttlers and coaches rewarded by the Kuala Lumpur Badminton Association (KLBA) for their achievements at the Tokyo Games in a ceremony at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) yesterday.
Wooi Yik received RM5,000, the second highest after Paralympics gold medallist Cheah Liek Hou, who took home RM10,000.
Incentives were also handed out to Liek Hou’s coach Rashid Sidek (RM3,000), BAM coaching director Wong Choong Hann (RM3,000), independent women’s singles shuttler, Soniia Cheah (RM2,000), and the recently-retired women’s doubles shuttler, Chow Mei Kuan (RM2,000) for their participation in the Tokyo Games.