Elusive Thomas Cup medal whets Aaron-Wooi Yik’s appetite

Calm before the storm: Aaron Chia speaking to reporters after a training session at the Academy Badminton Malaysia in Bukit Kiara. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: Men’s doubles shuttlers Aaron Chia and Soh Wooi Yik are out to help the team win a medal in the Thomas Cup Finals from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu, China, and complete their own collection in major events.

A medal in the prestigious team meet is the only piece missing in Aaron-Wooi Yik’s impressive haul in big competitions.

The world No. 5 created history by capturing gold in the 2022 World Championships and also won the SEA Games title in 2019 in Manila, the Philippines.

Aaron-Wooi Yik then went on to win bronze medals in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 2022 Commonwealth Games, Hangzhou Asian Games and world meet last year.

The pair also played an important role in Malaysia’s bronze medal wins twice in the 2021 and 2023 Sudirman Cup.

Only a medal in the Thomas Cup has proved elusive for Aaron-Wooi Yik and they are hungry to end their wait in Chengdu.

“The Thomas Cup is a major team event and is just as important for us as the Asian Games and other big tournaments,” said Aaron.

“Wooi Yik and I hope to help the team grab a medal this time. It does not matter to us what colour but we want a medal.”

Aaron-Wooi Yik will be competing for the fourth time in the team meet and were part of the teams that lost in the quarter-finals thrice in 2018, 2020 and 2022.

The team need to reach at least the semi-final to win a medal.

The others in the team are Lee Zii Jia, Leong Jun Hao, Cheam June Wei, Justin Hoh (singles), Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani and Choong Hon Jian-Mohd Haikal Nazri (doubles).

The last time Malaysia made it to the semi-final was in 2018 when the tournament was also held in China in Kunshan.

The team needs to survive a tricky group containing 2016 champions Denmark and Hong Kong to reach the last eight first.

Minnows Algeria are the other team in the group.

Only the top two teams in the group will progress to the quarter-finals.

Aaron believes a victory over Hong Kong in the opening match will be key to Malaysia’s chances of surviving the group.

“The first match against Hong Kong is very important for us as it will decide if we can reach the quarter-finals,” said Aaron.

“On paper, Denmark have the advantage over us in the singles while their doubles pairs are not bad too.

“We still need to try to beat them to finish top of the group but we need a win against Hong Kong first.

“The singles matches will be 50-50 against Hong Kong while we have some advantage in the doubles,” added Aaron.

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