PETALING JAYA: Shuttler Yong Hock Kin will be featuring in his sixth and probably last All-England championships in Birmingham next month and he is seen as a good bet to end Malaysia's long wait for a singles champion in the prestigious tournament.
The southpaw, who will turn 29 in June, is among the six Malaysian singles players for the tournament, scheduled for Feb 12-16. The others are Wong Choong Hann, Lee Tsuen Seng, James Chua and the Hashim brothers, Hafiz and Roslin.
The last Malaysian to win the All-England singles title was Tan Aik Huang in 1966 while the Sidek brothers, Razif and Jalani, were the doubles champions in 1982.
National singles chief coach Misbun Sidek said that based on form and determination showed in training, Hock Kin should be among the players to watch in the All-England.
“Since he started training with the national team recently, he has showed great ability in practice match,” said Misbun.
“He has great potential but unfortunately his performances in the past were affected by injuries. But so far, he has not allowed the fear of aggravating his injuries get in the way of his preparations for the tournament. He has also been an inspiration to the younger players in the team.”
Hock Kin, whose career had been troubled by hamstring and knee injuries, quit the national team last year to become a national coach. But he found out that coaching was not his cup of tea and he has found his own sponsors to continue a playing career.
He was a semi-finalist in a tough China Open last month and he was given the green light to join national training to prepare for the All-England and the Swiss Open (Feb 19-23).
Misbun said Hock Kin was determined to make an impact in the All-England.
“I am very sure this time that he will be a difficult player to beat. Some players are already feeling threatened by his presence. With the strong determination, he is expected to reach at least the quarter-finals. We hope that his injury will not act up again.”
Hock Kin's best result in the All-England was a place in the quarter-finals in 1998. He was a first-round casualty in 1996 and made it to the third round in 1995, 1997 and 2000.