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Saturday, October 6, 2007

Spotlight on Player - Wong Choong Hann

this gallant Malaysian tiger has served Malaysia consistently through thick and thin

Wong Choong Hann. 2003 World Championship Silver Medalist. Former World Number 1. Simply put: Malaysian Legend.

Wong's illustrious career in badminton started in 1991, where he had to play in the qualifying stages of the Malaysian Open. Unfortunately, he failed to make an impact there, but this marked the start of more than 16 years of service to Malaysian badminton. He was the calm one. The mentally strong one. The one that could speak such good English that he could have easily pursued a career in linguistics, that being said, Malaysia would not have had such success in the Men's Single's badminton arena.

Aiding in Malaysia's near misses in the 1998 and 2002 Thomas Cup campaigns, he served as Malaysia's number 1 shuttler for more than 4 years. Not only that, he was frequently requested to play in the Men's Doubles disciplines, which ultimately highlighted his dedication to the sport, and his love of his country.

Funnily enough, despite his high world rankings in the late 1990s to the early 2000s, he did not win many titles. Still, whenever the occasion came, he delivered. Coming agonizingly close in defeating Xia Xuanze in Birmingham during the 2003 World Championships, Wong has always served as one of the 'rocks' of Malaysian badminton, even after he was overtaken by Lee Chong Wei as National number 1, serving as team captain in many BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia) assignments.

Tragedy struck in 2006, where he ruptured his Achilles tendon during the Quarter Finals against Park Sung Hwan of Korea. I remember feeling afraid for the first time for Wong; Of all the matches I've seen of him, even if he was losing, I still had confidence in him, as he emanated such confident aura. However, for the first time, I was afraid for Wong. Nothing troubled Wong - except injury. Malaysia watched mournfully as Wong was given a standing ovation for his efforts as he exited the stadium.

Everyone dismissed Wong as a spent force after that. Everyone expected him to hang up his racquet, and retire from badminton. Everyone... that is, except Wong himself. When everyone didn't believe in him, he believed in himself. He bounced back strongly in the 2007 Malaysia Open, almost scalping then World Number 4 Chen Jin, and at that tournament, completing a full circle as he had to play in the qualifying stages of the tournament; the irony being his first tournament was during the qualifying stages of the Malaysian Open. He sent Chen Hong, then world number 2, and Bao Chunlai, then world number 3, packing in the China Open and Macau Open. When everyone dismissed him, he refused to dismiss himself. This is one trait Malaysian players should actively learn - to never give up. To never give up, and to believe in themselves. Wong Choong Hann is a fighter - and Malaysians should learn from him.

As he takes onto court today against Chen Jin, Malaysia will be watching him. Malaysia will be praying for him, and Malaysia will be behind him supporting him no matter what the result is. Win or lose, he is a true Malaysian hero, and he deserves every ounce of support from our country he so gallantly represents.

Wong Choong Hann - Malaysian Hero, now and forever.


Joey said...

i support wong choon hann too...

Joey said...

so u do wanna do medicine. haha, as ive guessed. but there is not much prospect in this field nowadays. dont u agree so? why do u wanna do medicine, may i ask?