Badminton: Scalps on the line

Badminton: Scalps on the line

PETALING JAYA: Once they were the hunters but now they are the hunted!

Aaron Chia, 25, said this is the reality he and Soh Wooi Yik, 24, will have to face as Malaysia’s first world badminton champions in the highly competitive men’s doubles.

It is a rare feat to secure the world title, the second most sought-after crown after the Olympics gold and Aaron realizes the tough task ahead.

After numerous attempts at breaking the duck for their first international title, Aaron-Wooi Yik came good in Tokyo last week where they dropped just one game (against India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty in the semi-finals) en route to the title. They overcame veterans Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia in the final on Sunday.

“Once you are a champion, everyone will start analyzing your game and we have to raise our game to face the challenges ahead. It will not be easy for us.

“All our opponents will be out for our scalps. And as world champions, we will have additional pressure to deliver. We need to give priority to our next goal and stay on track to achieve that.”

The Hangzhou Asian Games next year and the 2024 Paris Olympics are on the radar for the duo but they are not looking too far ahead as their immediate task is to keep on producing consistent results.

Aaron also spoke at length about his tendency to freeze during the semi-finals of previous tournaments but the issue has been put to rest with their superb show in Tokyo.

Wooi Yik added that playing in a major final and winning it has helped boost their confidence tremendously which will help them achieve more honours.

“For me, it’s more about belief. We’ve been playing for almost four years as partners and sometimes, we think like it is impossible to become champions,” said Wooi Yik.

“Now we’ve made the breakthrough. Sometimes, coach Rexy (Mainaky) will say give it time it will click and it clicked for us in the semis, we were able to perform well.

“We will just keep learning and focus on our strengths.”

Aaron-Wooi Yik are bracing for a storm of challenges that would come their way with renewed confidence, something that was missing in their career.

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