Patient June Wei treasures second chance to prove his worth

No time to rest: Cheam June Wei returning a shot during a training session.

PETALING JAYA: Men’s singles shuttler Cheam June Wei is reaping the reward for his patience as he prepares for the Thomas Cup Finals from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu.

The independent player, who made his debut in the 2020 edition in Aarhus, Denmark, was overlooked for the last team meet in 2022 but never gave up hope of being part of the team again and could make an important contribution this time.

June Wei, who is currently ranked No. 63 in the world, is set to play in the third singles in the tournament behind world No. 10 Lee Zii Jia and Leong Jun Hao (No. 37).

20-year-old Justin Hoh (No. 232) has also been selected and will be making his debut in the Thomas Cup.

June Wei will need to step up along with Jun Hao in the absence of the country’s No. 2 and world No. 18 Ng Tze Yong, who had to be dropped due to injury.

“I always had the thought in mind that I have a chance to be picked for the Thomas Cup as long as I continue playing at a higher level,” said June Wei, after a training session at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara yesterday.

“I’m currently the fourth ranked singles player in the country (behind only Zii Jia, Tze Yong and Jun Hao), so I knew I could get the opportunity.

“I feel very happy and proud that I can represent Malaysia again in this tournament.

“For an independent player like me, getting to play in a major tournament is a boost to my career as it will impress my sponsors.

“I will give my very best if I get to play.”

June Wei has been training with the rest of the team in ABM for three weeks to get ready for the team meet and is pleased with his preparations so far.

“So far, our preparations have been good. We are working well as a team and everyone is feeling positive,” said June Wei.

“We took part in many activities during the centralised training camp which helped us to bond.

“I also really appreciate it that the coaches allowed me to train here since I returned from the Spain Masters three weeks ago.”

June Wei is now looking forward to the team’s first match against Hong Kong on April 27 and is bullish about the team’s chances of making a smashing start.

He will likely face either world No. 91 Chan Yin Chak or world No. 94 Jason Gunawan in the third singles match.

“I believe that overall, we have the advantage over Hong Kong as we have more experience in team events than them,” said June Wei.

“So, it’s important that we stay focused and not overthink. I have never played Yin Chak or Gunawan before, so I need to prepare myself well.”

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