Painful defeat can spur singles to be better, says Choong Hann

Ng Tze Yong shaking hands with K. Srikanth after losing in tie against India on Thursday. - Badminton Photo

THE 2000 Thomas Cup Finals in Kuala Lumpur is one former international Wong Choong Hann will never forget. Malaysia failed to make it out of their group, finishing behind South Korea and Denmark.

And Choong Hann, who played at first singles, took six months to recover from the disappointment.

Now though, he hopes the current singles players Ng Tze Yong and Leong Jun Hao will shrug off the disappointments quicker than he did.

Choong Hann, the national coaching singles director, believes one needs painful reminders to keep moving forward.

“I was the first singles then but I performed poorly. It was hard to face people because of the defeat and it took me six months to just snap out of the disappointment,” said Choong Hann, who bounced back to lead the team to the final of the 2002 edition in Guangzhou.

“I hope the defeat here against India will be a catalyst for these youngsters to want more.

On Thursday, 21-year-old Tze Yong and Jun Hao, 22, collapsed against India’s 29-year-olds K. Srikanth and H.S. Prannoy, both seasoned campaigners, in the quarter-final tie.

Tze Yong lost 11-21, 17-21 to Srikanth while Jun Hao squandered a good start before losing 13-21, 8-21 to Prannoy.

Jun Hao’s defeat was especially painful as it was the deciding match after Malaysia and India were locked at 2-2.

Earlier, Lee Zii Jia had given Malaysia a superb headstart with a 23-21, 21-9 win over Lakshya Sen but Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani squandered the lead when they lost 19-21,15-21 to Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty.

Tze Yong’s defeat in the second singles saw India in the driving seat at 2-1 before Aaron Chia-Teo Ee Yi saved the tie with a hard-fought 21-19, 21-17 win against Krishna Prasad-Goud Panjala.

Then, Jun Hao lost. The Indian camp erupted in joy as they dashed onto the court to celebrate with their hero Prannoy as the Malaysian walked out of court in disbelief.

While losing to India for the first time since 1979 was a bitter pill to swallow, Choong Hann said the defeat was a good reality check.

“Unlike Zii Jia who handled the pressure well, Tze Yong and Jun Hao have to improve from this experience,” he said.

“Srikanth had better technique and overall ability. Jun Hao started well but he could not handle the growing pressure from a determined Prannoy.

“They know now that they need that kind of strength and firepower to play at the top level but it can’t be achieved overnight.

“It requires hard training and a never-say-die spirit. If they want to win, they have to train much harder ... that’s the hard truth.

“Today, they felt the pain, they saw how India celebrated.’’

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