Liek Hou targets No 1 spot

Para-shuttler Cheah Liek Hou is eager to further improve his ranking and reach the top spot following his Brazil Para-Badminton International triumph on Sunday.

World No 2 Liek Hou defeated Meril Loquette of France 21-17, 21-17 in Sao Paulo to extend his unbeaten record to 41 matches, dating back to October 2019.

The 34-year-old, who has now won eight straight titles, said his ultimate goal this year is to reclaim the men’s singles SU5 world No 1 spot from Indonesia’s Dheva Anrimusthi.

And to do that, Liek Hou must dethrone Dheva at both the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou from Oct 11-16 and the Para World Championships on Nov 1-6.

Liek Hou explained that his victory in Brazil will not make any difference to his ranking pursuit.

Liek Hou also did not receive any ranking points for his gold-medal winning feat at last year’s Tokyo Paralympics, which was not a ranking tournament.

“This title will not help me to gain any ground on Dheva because I merely defended the points I won two years ago,” said Liek Hou.

“The only two tournaments that will get me back to the world No 1 ranking are the Asian Para Games and the Para World Championships.

“Both tournaments offer more ranking points compared to the regular circuit events.

“I need to work hard if I were to win these two events.”

Liek Hou said he will resume his fierce rivalry with Dheva and countryman Suryo Nugroho, the world No 3, in the upcoming tournaments in Bahrain (May 16-22) and the United Arab Emirates (May 23-29). The duo did not participate in Brazil.

“I heard they will be back next month. I look forward to taking them on again, especially Dheva,” said Liek Hou.

In Tokyo, Liek Hou outclassed Dheva 21-17, 21-15 to win Malaysia’s first Paralympic title in badminton.

He stands a chance of completing a grand treble by reclaiming the world and Asian Para Games this year.

Dheva had stopped him in the semi-finals of the two meets in Basel (2019) and Jakarta (2018).

Before that, Liek How was a six-time world champion and two-time Asian Para Games gold medallist.

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