Wei Chong-Kai Wun’s rise could’ve been sooner if not for injury setbacks

Serving a stunner: Man Wei Chong (front) and Tee Kai Wun in action during the Malaysian Masters. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Man Wei Chong and Tee Kai Wun are now household names after their fighting show in the Malaysian Masters but they could have risen to stardom even earlier if not for injury woes.

Hopes were on reigning world champions Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Asian Championships runners-up Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi to hog the limelight in the home tournament, which ended on Sunday, but Wei Chong-Kai Wun, both 23, had the right attitude to surpass their teammates by reaching the final before finishing runners-up.

The pair, both from Melaka, did well in 2021 too and were eager to impress in the SEA Games in Vietnam but unfortunately, injuries struck both of them during the tournament.

Kai Wun suffered an ankle injury while Wei Chong hurt his knee during the men’s team final against Thailand.

The injuries ended their dream of defending the gold won by Aaron-Wooi Yik in the 2019 Philippines Games.

They came out of it to win the Taiwan Open last July but aggravated their old injuries and had not gone past the early rounds of any tournaments.

In the past week, they showed great resilience and desire to rise again by upsetting big names in the Malaysian Masters. Unfortunately, inexperience saw them missing out on a chance to win the final.

“We need to take care of our bodies better after this,” said Wei Chong.

“We need to do more exercises and gym work to avoid injuries.”

They had stunned reigning Olympic champions and home favourites Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin in the final of the Taiwan Open and captured the Syed Modi International last year January, and qualified for their first ever All-England before going down fighting to world champions Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi of Japan in the first round in Birmingham.

World No. 26 Wei Chong-Kai Wun have a chance of making the cut for the 2024 Paris Olympics if they can maintain their form.

They face a tough battle as a country is only allowed a maximum of two pairs, provided both are ranked in the top eight by the end of the qualifying period at the end of April next year.

Currently, world No. 2 Aaron-Wooi Yik and world No. 8 Yew Sin-Ee Yi are the favourites to qualify but Wei Chong-Kai Wun have defied the odds before.

“Our priority now is to perform at our best in tournaments,” said Wei Chong.

“We don’t want to think too much about Olympics qualification, winning or losing but we want to focus on staying fit and improving our game,” added Wei Chong, who showed great promise in 2021 when he together with Kai Wun triumphed in the Polish Open, Spanish International and Irish Open, and emerged as the runners-up at the Welsh and Czech Opens.

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