PETALING JAYA: Can promising youngsters Jacky Kok and Ong Ken Yon be groomed into world-beaters?
Having spent nine months under the tutelage of national junior development director Datuk Misbun Sidek, the two 19-year-old singles shuttlers opened a new chapter in their careers when they joined the seniors at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) on Monday.
Jacky and Ken Yon, who are on a six-month probation, will be aiming to impress coach Hendrawan and Datuk Tey Seu Bock to make their stay permanent.
Despite in the early years of their careers, the duo can count themselves lucky to be mentored by Misbun, Hendrawan and Seu Bock. The trio played pivotal roles in guiding badminton legend Lee Chong Wei in different stages of his illustrious 19-year career.
For Jacky, the world No. 3 boys’ singles shuttler last year, he said he is game for a much tougher and higher intensity training regime.
“I’ve never viewed tough training as torturous, ” said Jacky, who won the German Junior Open in the Covid-19-shortened season last year.
“There’s no such thing as coaches torturing players. Each and every programme given is meant to help us improve, grow and subsequently become better players.”
Asked about his first day, Jacky said: “The first day was kind of exciting and nervous at the same time. All in all, it was a good start.
“Hendrawan and Seu Bock were very supportive and this made us feel very welcomed and helped us to settle in easily.
“I hardly feel any difference from the junior training sessions except that I now train with new coaches and teammates. I probably just need some time to adapt to the new coaching and training style.
“The new environment somehow gives me extra motivation to take my game to the next level.”
Meanwhile, Ken Yon is relishing the chance to gain as much knowledge as possible.
“The first two days were quite tough physically, but enjoyable. It’s really a great honour to be part of the senior team and I must give 100% commitment in every single session to justify my promotion, ” said Ken Yon, who ended his junior career as world No. 20.
With Jacky and Ken Yon’s inclusion, the men’s singles department now have 11 members.
Their teammates are Lee Zii Jia, Cheam June Wei, Leong Jun Hao, Ng Tze Yong, Lim Chong King, Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin, Wyman Goh, Lee Shun Yang and Shaqeem Eiman Shahyar.