Justin has just the right qualities to go far

Keep it up, champ: Justin Hoh posing with coach Datuk Misbun Sidek after winning the Croatian Open.

PETALING JAYA: Shuttler Justin Hoh is quiet by nature but he has been making loud noise on the international stage.

And that has made junior programme coaching director Datuk Misbun Sidek a happy man.

On Thursday, the 18-year-old Justin continued his fine form when he lifted the men’s singles title in the Croatian Open after defeating Nguyen Hai Dang of Vietnam 21-15, 16-21, 21-13.

It was only his second senior Open title after he won the Bonn International in Germany last week. Prior to the international stint, Justin underlined his rapid progress by winning the national Under-21 title.

Misbun believes Justin will go far as he has the charisma and character to go with his game.

“I remember the day when his father passed away. He was in training when the news was conveyed to him. I told him to go back home but he stayed back to complete his training before leaving,” said Misbun.

Justin’s father Hoh Kim Leong, 58, passed away on Nov 22 due to a heart attack.

“He came back after two days and seemed more determined. His father was his great supporter. Justin’s game may be ordinary but he is a thinking player and a fighter,” said Misbun.

Misbun sees some characteristics of Lee Chong Wei and attributes of Lee Zii Jia in Justin.

“He has good physique like Zii Jia but we are working on building his stamina and strength. He does not talk much but shows his stuff on the court. He is disciplined and is like Chong Wei in that sense.

“Like Chong Wei, he tries to get my attention, and wants more in training. I like that. He’s also a good doubles player. His main goal this year is the World Junior championships and he is shaping up well for that.”

Besides Justin, there are several other juniors who have shown marked improvement since Misbun took charge of the junior group, more than 18 months ago. And Misbun believes that Malaysia are not short of talents.

“My job, together with the other coaches, is to help and guide these players to realise their potential. As a former player, I’ve reached the pinnacle of the game, and I can lead these players through the same path,” said Misbun.

One of his main tasks is to give them the needed exposure and also build on their world rankings.

“I sent Justin as a reserve to the recent Vietnam SEA Games. I did the same when Chong Wei was a junior. They carried bags and were merely sparring players but the experience is priceless,” said Misbun.

“I’m glad that I’ve got the blessings to send our juniors for many tournaments to build their game and confidence. It’s important that they have a reasonably good world ranking before they join the senior team.”

Justin, who was ranked 700th before the two international tournaments, is now lying at the 480th spot. He is expected to break into the 200 soon.

Said Justin: “I’m happy to win not one but two titles here. This is only the beginning as I’ve so many things to learn and improve under the guidance of coach Misbun.

“My late dad was my No. 1 supporter and he would always be. I’ll continue to make him proud.”

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