Liek Hou can breathe easy as Paris ticket almost certain

PETALING JAYA: Shuttler Cheah Liek Hou (pic) finally has some time to catch a breather before stepping up his preparations for the 2024 Paris Paralympics.

The reigning Paralympic gold medallist Liek Hou can afford to relax for the rest of the year as he is almost certain to qualify for the men’s singles SU5 (upper body impairment) in the showpiece event next year.

Liek Hou is currently ranked No. 1 in the Race to Paris rankings where the top six will make the cut.

The 35-year-old’s priority is to maintain his physical condition until the Paralympics rolls around next August.

“I will not be pushing myself too hard now until end of the year as I I’m currently 90% certain of qualifying for the Paralympics,” said Liek Hou.

“There is around nine months to go for the Paralympics and my main focus is to maintain my physical condition until then.

“I will facing much younger opponents in the tournament and I need to be ready.”

Indonesia’s 24-year-old Dheva Anrimusthi is set to be Liek Hou’s main challenger for the gold in Paris.

Dheva had denied Liek Hou the title in the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou last month.

While acknowledging that Dheva will be his main obstacle again, the later is refusing to discount the threat posed by others.

“Dheva is so much younger than me and will pose a tough challenge but I also cannot ignore other players like Taiwan’s Fang Jen-yu,” said Liek Hou.

“Jen-yu had proved his capability by beating Dheva recently and I need to be careful of him as well.”

Liek Hou’s next big assignment will be the World Championships from Feb 20-25 in Pattaya where he is out to defend his title.

“The world meet will be the last tournament before the Paralympics qualifying period ends at the end of February,” said Liek Hou.

“I will be pushing myself harder again before the tournament and I hope to be in good condition to defend my title.”

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