On top of the worlds

PETALING JAYA: Singles shuttler Cheam June Wei is on cloud nine.

June Wei, who quit the national team last month, has received a last minute call-up to play in his first World Championships in Huelva, Spain from Dec 12-19 and he does not want to waste the golden opportunity.

The 24-year-old June Wei says he was lucky as he had just turned professional.

“I received the invite yesterday night (on Tuesday) and I’ve decided to fund my own trip there,” said June Wei, who left Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) after serving for more than a decade.

“I’ve been with BAM for a long time but did not get to play in a world meet.

“Now, I’m an independent player, and I get this chance. This is pure luck.

“I’ve only started competing in 2019 after going through a spell due to an injury and I’m glad that the ranking points gathered in the last few tournaments were enough for me to make the cut.”

Ranked 73rd in the world, June Wei said he had sought the assistance of coaches Datuk Rashid Sidek and Nova Armada to prepare him for the world meet.

“It has been a crazy one month. I was under quarantine after returning from Europe and was busy moving my things from the BAM hostel.

“I’ve only started training on my own a week ago,” he said.

“Fortunately, coaches Rashid and Nova have decided to help me... time is short but I plan to make the best use of it.”

June Wei has been drawn to meet Kenta Nishimoto of Japan in the first round.

He is in the same half with top seed Kento Momota of Japan and may meet Momota in the third round.

“I just want to participate in my first world meet – that’s the motivating factor.

“I’ve a 1-1 record against Nishimoto, hopefully, I will continue to get lucky,” said June Wei.

Malaysia will also be represented by Lee Zii Jia and Liew Daren in the men’s singles but both have been served with contrasting fortunes as far as the draw is concerned.

Sixth seed Zii Jia has a good chance to reach the last eight as his strongest opponent in his last quarter is set to be third seed Anders Antonsen of Denmark. On a good day, Zii Jia stands a better chance than the Dane.

Daren however is lumped together in the same quarter with second seed Viktor Axelsen of Denmark. The new world No. 1 Axelsen, however, has a tricky first round against Singaporean Loh Kean Yew in the first round.

In the men’s doubles, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik are in the same quarter with independent shuttlers Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong. Their main challengers will be sixth seeds Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto of Indonesia and 16th seed He Jiting-Tan Qiang of China.

The other Malaysian representatives in the world meet are Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani, Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi (men’s doubles); S. Kisona (women’s singles); Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, Teoh Mei Xing-Yap Ling (women’s doubles); and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See (mixed doubles).

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