Badminton: Tze Yong will go far

Badminton: Tze Yong will go far

A CHANCE to see Ng Tze Yong’s first clash against Denmark’s world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen did not materialize at the World Championships but the highly talented youngster can take comfort that he will have plenty of opportunities in the future.

Yesterday, the 22-year-old world No. 41 threw away the golden chance after going down 9-21, 21-10, 19-21 to Thailand’s Sitthikom Thammasin in the second round in Tokyo.

It looked as though Tze Yong was about to pull off the biggest comeback of the day when he fought his way up valiantly from 5-14 to 19-19 in the decider, only to see the more experienced Thai hang on for the win.

The 27-year-old Sitthikom, known for his famous win over China’s Shi Yuqi en route to the Macau Open title in 2019, will be out to beat Axelsen for the first time after losing in all their last three encounters.

Tze Yong, who is making his debut, took defeat in his stride.

“I’ve much to learn. I must work further on my fitness. I’ve gained good experience in my first world meet, I will now look forward,” said Tze Yong.

It was quite evident that his form had suffered a slide and one can’t blame him entirely as he had given his heart and soul at the Commonwealth Games two weeks ago.

In Birmingham, Tze Yong upstaged Singapore’s world champion Loh Kean Yew and India’s K. Srikanth en route to winning the mixed team gold and a silver in the individual event.

In Tokyo, he did well in his first match by dispatching Malaysian Masters champion Chico Aura of Indonesia without much problems but yesterday, he could not bring out his A game.

National coaching director Wong Choong Hann, however, was pleased with Tze Yong’s growth and maturity.

“We’ve entered him for next week’s Japan Open but he is in the reserve list. Hopefully, he gets a chance to play,” said Choong Hann.

“Tze Yong is in a unique situation right now. He is at a stage where he can give top and experienced players a fight but the downside is that he’s unable to compete in big tournaments because of his low ranking.

“We will look at every opportunity to give him the exposure he needs. If he can’t make the cut for the big ones, we will send him for smaller events to build on his ranking.

“Tze Yong has the right attitude. He was trailing far behind in the decider against the Thai and showed great determination to catch up. Many players would have given up.

“He is a fighter and this trait in him will take him far.”

Choong Hann took over as head coach in 2019 but since last year he has been focusing more on the singles and with the arrival of Rexy Mainkay, a lot of ground work had taken place in the national team. Youngsters like Tze Yong have benefited from a more structured program and all they need right now is more opportunities and time to show what they are capable of.

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