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June Wei hopes to regain form

New Straits Times logo New Straits Times 23/4/2019 Fabian Peter
a man hitting a ball with a racket: Cheam June Wei © Provided by Media Prima Cheam June Wei

KUALA LUMPUR: It is going to be a mountain to climb but Cheam June Wei is determined to make up for lost time.

On Tuesday, the men's singles shuttler fought tooth-and nail-before carving out a 21-11, 19-21, 21-18 win over Sri Lanka’s Niluka Karunaratne to earn a spot in the main draw of the Asia Championships in Wuhan, China.

June Wei had earlier defeated Iran's Amir Jabbari 21-13, 21-14 in the first qualifying match.

Having fallen from grace since his transition to the national senior squad, the 22-year-old is now in a race against time to catch up with his more prominent peers.

The Penang-born, once touted to be the next big thing in Malaysian badminton, said: "I know that hopes and expectations were high on me, especially after my junior days but long term injuries threw me off my game.

"Having suffered a knee injury and a lower back fracture in my first two years in the senior squad, I lost touch and rhythm. I was close to giving up because I couldn't play for six months and it was always on and off the court for me.

"But my coaches believed in me, and I am extremely grateful for that. I am still far from what I want to achieve, but I see improvement.

"All I need now is consistency."

Speaking about the tough qualifying match against 34-year-old Niluka, the World No 82 admitted to having fears of crashing out.

"He may be much older but he is a very experienced player. He switched strategies in the second and third game and that caught me off guard.

"I was feeling the pressure, and yes I had fears that I was going to be sent packing.

"I hope I get to beat some top players and do the best I can here," added June Wei, who plays Thailand's Sitthikom Thammasin in the opening round on Wednesday.

In the mixed doubles, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying cleared the first stage by overcoming Singapore's Danny Bawa Chrisnanta-Tan Wei Han 13-21, 22-20, 21-18.

The fifth seeds play China's He Jiting-Du Yue next.

Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, however, could not retain their new found form when they lost 21-12, 14-21, 21-15 to World No 1 Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong of China.

It was also the end of the road for Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei who went down 21-15, 21-17 to Hong Kong's Yeung Ming Nok-Ng Tsz Yau.

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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