THEY ARE A THREAT TO MALAYSIAN SHUTTLERS IN TOKYO OLYMPICS

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KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 – Malaysia has high hopes of winning medals at the Tokyo Olympics but Thursday’s draw done in Milton Keyes, England spells a strong message that simply reads – ”It’s not going to be easy” for the Malaysians.
At the last Olympics in Rio 2016, Malaysia came back with a rich haul of three silver medals – Malaysia’s best in the shuttle sport.
Former world No 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei won this third successive silver in the men’s singles through his 18-21, 18-21 defeat to China Chen Long in the final.
He also won the silver in the London Olympics (2012) and the Beijing Olympics (2008).
Goh V Shem- Tan Wee Kiong took silver in the men’s doubles after a three-game thriller against China’s Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan who won 21-16, 11-21, 23-21.
In the mixed doubles Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying fell at the final hurdle to Indonesia’s Tontowi Ahmad-Liliyana Natsir 14-21, 12-21.
The Rio Olympics saw Malaysia achieve its best tally in the Olympics with Cheong Jun Hoong-Pandelela Rinong winning the silver in the women’s synchronized 10m platform and Azizulhasni Awang the bronze in the men’s keirin in cycling.
Coming back to the shuttle sport, reigning All-England champion Lee Zii Jia is Malaysia’s hope in the men’s singles.
Drawn in Group M and has the unpredictable Frenchman Brice Leverdez and Ukraine’s Artem Pochtarov. Leverdez is unbeatable on his day.
Danger lurks for Zii Jia if he underrates Leverdez, who has scalped some big names in his career, including Chong Wei in the first round in the 2017 World Championships in Glasgow.
Zii Jia, however, has taken the draw in his stride, knowing that ”to be the best you have to be at your best to beat your challengers” in search of glory. There is no shortcut. You have to clear tough hurdles to be on the rostrum or to be a champion.
If the 23-year-old Zii Jia clears the group stage he is likely to face China’s defending champion Chen Long who is in Group N with Spain’s Pablo Albian and Estonia’s Raul Must, in the knockout stage.
Malaysia’s top men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik believe they have a ”fair chance to clear” the group stage in the tough Group D.
The Malaysians have Indonesia’s Hendra Setiawan-Mohammad Ahsan (No 2 seeds), South Koreans Choi Solgyu-Seo Sungjae and Canadians Jason Anthony Ho Shue-Nyl Yakura for company.
Peng Soon-Liu Ying also drew a tough Group D in the mixed doubles that has second seeds Wan Yi Lyu-Huang Dong Ping of China, Germans Mark Lamsfuss-Isabel Herrtrich and Hong Kong’s tough nuts Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet.
Soniia Cheah is in Group N of the women’s singles that consists of Thailand’s former world champion Ratchanok Intanon (seeded fifth) and Laura Sarosi of Hungary.
The Malaysian, ranked 35, has never beaten the Thai ace in her previous meetings but was quick to point out that anything is possible in Tokyo.
It is also a tough journey for women’s doubles Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean. Drawn in Group A that also has top seeds and favorites Sayaka Hirota-Yuki Fukushima.
The Malaysians have never beaten the Japanese, losing all their previous six encounters.
Indonesians Apriyani Rahayu-Greysia Polii is another hurdle for the Malaysians but it is expected to a touch and go affair with both pairs tied at 2-2 in their previous encounters. The other pair in the group is Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith of Great Britain.

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