Justin captures second badminton title in Europe

Seventeen matches and 736 minutes of gruelling action in just nine days.

Two titles.

What a trip it was for national junior shuttler Justin Hoh as he capped a superb back-to-back European stint by triumphing in the Croatia Open yesterday.

In the final, Justin, 18, outlasted Vietnam’s Nguyen Hai Dang, who’s four years older, 21-15, 16-21, 21-18 in an 80-minute thriller.

It was Justin’s second senior title in as many weeks following his victory at the Bonn International in Germany last Saturday.

What is even more remarkable was the fact that a weary Justin had pulled off the win barely three hours after he prevailed 21-12, 17-21, 21-17 over Hong Kong’s Jason Gunawan in the semi-finals. Jason is one of the rising stars in the world of badminton as in 2020, he created history by becoming the youngest ever Hong Kong’s national champion at the age of 16.

The win over Jason will hand Justin a morale booster ahead of the World Junior Championships in Santander, Spain, from Oct 17-30 where the former is touted as one of the top contenders.

“I’m just so tired right now, but it’s all worth it,” said Justin, who was also crowned the national Under-21 champion last month.

“I came to Europe with an ambition to win my first senior title, but I certainly didn’t expect to go back with two.

“It shows that my game is trending in the right direction. I want to thank, especially, coach Datuk Misbun Sidek for helping to take my game to a better level.

I do feel like I have improved a lot compared to two years back. Coach Misbun pushes me to the limit in every training session and I’m reaping the rewards now.

“After these two victories, he told me that I can celebrate, but once I return to training, the hard work starts again.

“My ultimate goal this year is to become world junior champion.”

In fact, Justin played more than 17 matches. He was also involved in the doubles with V. Poopathi where he lost in the first round in both tournaments, including 21-10, 13-21, 21-19 to Austria’s Philip Birker-Phillip Drexler in Croatia.

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