PETALING JAYA: Medal contenders Zulfadli Zulkifli and Loh Wei Sheng got off to flying starts in the boys’ singles event of the world junior badminton championships in Guadalajara on Wednesday.
But it was the end of the road for the third Malaysian singles player, Tew Gee Chong.
Zulfadli, determined to make up for the disappointment in the Asian Juniors last month, defeated China’s He Liu 21-17, 21-12 to set up a meeting with Japan’s Kento Momota.
Hopes were high on Zulfadli to nail a first Asian junior title but he crashed out in the semi-finals.
Wei Sheng, who pulled a surprise to finish as the runner-up in the Asian Juniors, did well to clear his qualifying round match with a 21-10, 21-11 win over Dennis Coke of Jamaica. He has a tricky first-round match in the tournament proper against H.S. Prannoy of India.
Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) student Gee Chong failed to come through the qualifiers, losing 15-21, 18-21 to Denmark’s Rasmus Fladberg in the second round.
It was also a good day for girls’ singles shuttlers Yang Li Lian and Sonia Cheah, coming through the qualifiers for matches against England’s Sarah Milne and Denmark’s Sandra-Maria Jensen respectively.
Malaysia’s hopefuls in the boys’ doubles, second seeds Ow Yao Han-Yew Hong Kheng and Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Teo Ee Yi, had first-round byes.
Yao Han-Hong Kheng will take on China’s Chen Zhuofu-Liu Cheng while Nelson-Ee Yi will meet Singaporeans Ngo Yi Chye-Tan Kia Hwee for places in the quarter-finals.
In last year’s championships, Malaysia won the boys’ doubles title through Yao Han-Chooi Kah Ming.