Leong Jun Hao served a surprise on the first day of Division 1 of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Invitational Championship when he scalped the higher-ranked Liew Daren to prove his pedigree here in Bukit Kiara.
The win over the former French Open winner proved that Jun Hao’s brilliant performance in Division 2 last week was no fluke as he maintained his cool in spite of being fully stretched.
The 21-year-old Jun Hao kept his footing to come back from a first set 15-21 defeat to beat Liew Daren 21-14, 21-16 in a battle that lasted for more than an hour.
“I had always known that the very first game in a competition was always going to be difficult, so I was prepared,” said Jun Hao.
“The truth is that I tried not to think too much but just to play the best I can in every game. My goal is to be in the top four brackets and of course, this victory has given me the right motivation for the next game.”
Another youngster Ng Tze Yong also showed his mettle when he sprang a surprise on Soong Joo Ven with a 21-18, 21-12 straight sets victory.
On the other hand, top seed Lee Zii Jia did not face any problem to overcome Division 2 runners-up Lim Chong King with a 21-14, 21-9 win.
There were no surprises in the women’s singles when Soniia Cheah delivered what was expected of her to overcome K. Letshana 21-13, 21-11.
“I was surprised by Letshana’s game. But actually, there is not much of a difference between us as we train together under the same coaches,” said Sonia.
In another women’s singles action, Eoon Qi Xuan streaked out a 21-5, 21-9 straight sets victory over Lee Ying Ying.
Meanwhile, the mixed doubles pair of Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai had to pull out from their game against Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See when Soon Huat suffered a pull to his back muscle.
The injury occurred in the second set when Soon Huat-Shevon were trailing 4-6 after winning 21-13 in the first set.
Soon Huat stopped playing after making an overhead cross-court smash when he complained of pain to his back muscles.
“He suffered an injury during a training session on Monday and was actually undergoing recovery. But today, it looks quite bad as he (Soon Huat) was unable to walk at all,” added Shevon.
“Of course, we are disappointed that we have been forced to stop when we have prepared well for this championship.”
Shevon added that further examinations will be carried out by doctors and coaches to find out the extent of Soon Huat’s injuries.
In the meantime, professionals Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying’s game was without problems when they beat Chen Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei in straight sets 21-18, 21-16.
While Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik won their tie 21-11, 21-16 over Ooi Jhy Dar-Yap Roy King, former world No. 1 Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong suffered a shock defeat in the afternoon session.
The Olympics silver medallist had beaten Chen Tang Jie-Nurfirdaus Azman 21-8, 21-19 in the morning session, but was surprised by young rivals Chang Yee Jun-Chia Wei Jie in a three-set battle 21-16, 12 -21, 21-23.
“We were not even thinking about winning or losing. We were only focussed on putting up a good game and follow the direction of the coaches,” Wei Jie added.
The BAM Invitational Championship is a BAM-organised event following four months of inactivity following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The championship is being held at the Malaysian Badminton Academy (ABM) in Bukit Kiara without spectators – using the ’round robin’ format and divided into two divisions.
For Division 2, the competition took place on 5-7 August involving six back-up players who will compete to win the top two spots for the chance to play in the main division.
Division 1 is on 12-16 August divided into five categories and will be accompanied by 52 senior players including eight professional players.
RESULTS – UNTIL 1730hrs
Leong Jun Hao – Liew Daren (15-21 21-14 21-16)
Ng Tze Yong – Soong Joo Ven (21-18 21-12)
Cheam June Wei – Aidil Soleh Ali Sadikin (21-18 21-16)
Lee Zii Jia – Lim Chong Kim (21-14, 21-9)
Eoon Qi Xuan – Lee Ying Ying (21-15 21-9)
Sonia Cheah – K. Letshana (21-13 21-11)
Aaron Chia / Soh Wooi Yik – Ooi Jhy Dar / Yap Roy King (21-11 21-16)
Ong Yew Sin / Teo Ee Yi – Choong Hon Jian / Loo Bing Kun (21-16 21-16)
Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong – Chen Tang Jie / Nurfirdaus Azman
Chang Yee Jun / Chia Wei Jie – Goh V Shem / Tan Wee Kiong – (16-21, 21-12, 23-21)
Chow Mei Kuan / Lee Meng Yean – Anna Cheong Ching Yik / Toh Ee Wei (21-16 21-11)
Pearly Tan Koong Le / M. Thinaah – Teoh Mei Xing / Yap Ling (21-12 22-20)
Chan Peng Soon / Goh Liu Ying – Chen Tang Jie / Peck Yen Wei (21-18 21-16)
Goh Soon Huat / Shevon Lai Jamie – Hoo Pang Ron / Cheah Yee See (21-13, 4-6 (retired)
Tan Kian Meng / Lai Pei Jing – Chen Tang Jie / Peck Yen Wei (23-21, 21-16)