Jun Hao stays on right path in comeback trail

Back in the fray: FT’s Leong Jun Hao won the silver medal in the Sukma men’s singles event at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.

PETALING JAYA: Leong Jun Hao will continue to plod on to show that he is not the forgotten man in badminton.

The 23-year-old singles shuttler, who is slowly but surely making his way up, justified his standing as the second best player in the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) set-up after finishing runner-up to Ng Tze Yong in the singles final of the recent Malaysia Games (Sukma).

Representing the Federal Territories, Jun Hao gave a good account of himself before going down 21-18, 19-21, 12-21 to his younger opponent.

With his domestic duty over, Jun Hao will be out to make his presence felt in the Vietnam Open which starts today in Ho Chi Minh City.

“I’m feeling quite positive with my form and progress thus far,” said Jun Hao.

The former Asian Junior champion was touted as the country’s rising star but injuries had slowed down his progress.

While many would have given up, Jun Hao, who has been with BAM for the last 10 years, is refusing to throw in the towel.

“My old injuries are not giving me problems any more ... all I need to do now is improve my focus on court,” said the world No. 86.

At the end of 2018, he injured his hip twice which resulted in his world ranking to plummet from 40th and out of the 100 list. In fact, the last title he won was the Finland Open that year before misfortune struck.

“It’s hard to predict whether I would have made it big if not for my injuries but it did slow me down. I’m looking to move on and the goal is to break into the top 50 by end of this year,” he said.

“I’m ready to give a good account of myself in the Vietnam Open,” added Jun Hao.

The skilful player, whose best result is a quarter-final appearance at the Poland Open, will face the winner of the first-round match between independent shuttler Cheam June Wei and India’s Abhyansh Singh.

His top half of the draw also include top seed Kanta Tsuneyama of Japan, Tommy Sugiarto of Indonesia (fourth seed), P. Kashyap of India (fifth seed) and Soong Joo Ven (seventh seed).

Second seed B. Sai Praneeth of India is lumped together in the second half of the draw with third seed Kodai Naraoka of Japan and China’s sixth seed Weng Hongyang.

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