From a greenhorn to a go-getter, Jun Hao enjoys Thomas Cup stint

PETALING JAYA: Men’s singles shuttler Leong Jun Hao (pic) has come a long way since making his debut in the Thomas Cup Finals in 2018 at the age of 18.

Jun Hao was a promising youngster as he captured gold in the Asian Junior Championships, just a year before.

Jun Hao was excited to play in his debut and played in one match against minnows Algeria in the group stage as Malaysia made it into the quarter-finals before going down to Indonesia but he cherished the experience.

Fast forward to now, he is set to play a much more prominent role in his fourth appearance at this year’s edition from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu – either as the second or the third singles.

Only fellow singles player Lee Zii Jia and doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik are the surviving members of the team that was part of the 2018 squad with Jun Hao.

“I’ve played several Thomas Cup over the years and the feeling is definitely different for me,” said Jun Hao.

“In 2018, I was only part of the team to learn and gain experience. It was a wonderful outing for me.

“Over the years, I have learnt the responsibility to help the team and win a point which will be my main focus this time as well.”

Injuries has disrupted Jun Hao’s progress since 2018 but he has slowly started to find his feet in the past two years.

The world No. 37 has also established himself as a team event specialist and was part of the team that captured the Asia Team Championships in Shah Alam in 2022.

Jun Hao also helped the team finish runners-up twice in the Asia team meet in 2020 and this year in February.

In the Thomas Cup this time, Jun Hao and Zii Jia will be joined by Ng Tze Yong, Cheam June Wei and Justin Hoh in the singles while Goh Sze Fei, Nur Izzuddin Rumsani and Mohd Haikal Nazri are the other doubles players selected along with Aaron-Wooi Yik.

Malaysia will face Denmark, Hong Kong and Algeria in Group D. Only the top two in the group will reach the quarter-finals.

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