Young duo get a shot at Thomas Cup

Young duo get a shot at Thomas Cup

JUST weeks after failing to make the Hanoi Sea Games squad, back up men’s singles shuttlers Ong Ken Yon and Shaqeem Eiman Shahyar found a silver lining after being surprisingly shortlisted for the Thomas Cup Finals in Bangkok next month.

Ken Yon, 20, and Shaqeem, 21, stand a chance to make their dream Thomas Cup debut as they were among the seven singles shuttlers called up for the nine-day centralised training which gets underway today at the Akademi Badminton Malaysia.

There is still time for Ken Yon and Shaqeem to impress the selectors as BA of Malaysia (BAM) still have another week before the entry deadline on April 22.

The other five trainees are professionals Lee Zii Jia and Liew Daren, Ng Tze Yong, Leong Jun Hao and Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin.

On paper, it looks certain that these five players will punch their tickets to Bangkok, leaving Ken Yon and Shaqeem to slug it out for the sixth spot.

BAM are expected to fill up the 12-member roster with six singles members as they had only named six doubles players for the doubles department.

Ken Yon, the Ukraine Open runner-up in January, is sceptical about his chances of making the final selection but is ready to give it one real shot now that he has been shortlisted.

“It’s really a pleasant surprise to be honest. Obviously, making the Thomas Cup shortlist was the last thing that I could ever think of after missing out on the Sea Games selection,” said Ken Yon.

“I was feeling down, but this call-up has given me a reason to cheer up. But I have to be realistic about my position, I don’t feel I have the chance to get into the final squad.

“If anything, there’s so much to gain from the centralised training. I hope to take this opportunity and improve my performance on court.

“I will try my utmost best to prove my worth, and in the event I get selected, it’s already a bonus even I will go there for the sparring role. I have always longed for the day to represent Malaysia in a prestigious team tournament like Thomas Cup, this is one good chance for me.”

As for Shaqeem, the 2019 World Junior Championships quarter-finalist, he too wants to fight to be included after learning about Aidil’s first-time experience in Aarhus, Denmark last year.

“I got inspired after Aidil shared with me his experience last year. He did not manage to play last year, but it still meant a lot for him to feel the eye-opening atmosphere in a major event,” said Shaqeem.

“I missed the Sea Games selection, but now I have been given a chance for a bigger redemption. I will make full use of it.”

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