KUALA LUMPUR: One can be forgiven if the name Hong Chieng Hun does not ring any bell. But starting this year, the doubles player will be out to make his presence felt with his partner Chang Kim Wai in international badminton tournaments.
The 24-year-old Perlis-born player hopes to be ranked in the world top 16 list by the end of the year. He is also looking forward to being the second pair in the national Thomas Cup team next year.
His immediate target however, is to defend the men's doubles title in the National Grand Prix Finals starting on Thursday at the SBA Hall in Kampung Attap.
Last year, Chieng Hun-Kim Wai upset Malaysia's number one pair Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng en route to the national GP crown.
The pair's two international assignments this year after the National GP are the All-England from Feb 12-16 and Swiss Open from Feb 19-23.
Quiet by nature, Chieng Hun, standing at 169cm, is praying that there will be no further changes in his doubles partnership in his bid to become the top pair in the country.
Since I joined the national team in 1999, I have played with five doubles players before getting to partner Kim Wai again. It does not help when you have to keep changing partners. I hope, this time, my partnership with Kim Wai will stay for good, said Chieng Hun.
He had partnered Chan Huan Chun, Teo Kok Seng, Jeremy Gan, Ng Kean Kok and Lin Woon Fui. He had partnered Kim Wai briefly before Woon Fui, and together they won the Poland Open in 2001.
Although born in Perlis, Chieng Hun's badminton career bloomed in Kedah. He studied in Alor Star and had trained under former state coach Lee Jian Kang who spotted his talents and was immediately roped into the national back-up squad in 1999.
I am glad to be back with Kim Wai who is 27. He is a powerful player and does well at the back while I can play at the front. We can combine well as a pair, he said.
Our target is to break into the top 16 in the world. (They are currently ranked 71st in the world). There is focus on us to become the second pair for the country for the Thomas Cup Finals and we are confident we can achieve this.
I played in the 2001 All-England with Kean Kok and we lost in the first round. Hopefully, with Kim Wai, I will be able to reach at least the quarter-finals.
On his chances in the GP Finals, he said: We will try our best to defend the title. Chong Ming-Choon Eng are still the favourites and we will try to upset them again.
Meanwhile, national doubles chief coach Yap Kim Hock said Chieng Hun is a disciplined player.
I have hope on this player because he is disciplined and is a very hard working player. I am confident that with his good attitude in training, he will go far.