KUALA LUMPUR: It’s getting more challenging for seasoned campaigner Wong Choong Hann to train without a coach.
But it has not doused the fire in him from wanting to chalk up his biggest win of the year when he takes on China’s Bao Chunlai today in the second round of the Singapore Open.
Choong Hann advanced with a 21-18, 21-11 win over India’s Chetan Anand while Chunlai got an easy ride for a shot at a place in the quarter-finals when Poland’s Wacha Przemyslaw retired after losing the first game 9-21.
The 31-year-old Choong Hann said that he was seeking for a timely boost ahead of the world championships, which will be played in Hyderabad from Aug 10-16.
The former Malaysian No. 1, who left the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) stable to seek new fortunes as an independent player after the Beijing Olympics last year, will be making a fifth appearance in the world championships.
“A win against Chunlai will be a great boost to my preparations for the world championships. It will be my biggest win this year,” said Choong Hann in a telephone interview from Singapore.
“Chunlai has not played in many tournaments this year because of his old knee injury. I guess, he is also trying to gauge where he stands before the world meet. He will still be a tough opponent.”
Choong Hann added that a player could make do without a coach, especially for those with a wealth of experience but it could be difficult at times.
“It takes a lot of discipline to be able to keep a high level of play in training without a coach. I have to psyche myself up a lot. It gets harder as time goes by,” he said.
Choong Hann said that the experience playing in Europe for a club in the German League, however, had given him the confidence to continue to aspire for great things in badminton.
“The European players are very independent. They can still play without having to rely on coaches too much,” he said.
To keep him on his toes, Choong Hann has made arrangements to play with the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) players and, sometimes, with the national men’s doubles shuttlers.
“I am looking at playing good badminton for another two years. Hopefully, I will be able to do well here (Singapore Open),” he said.
Besides Choong Hann, Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei also advanced to the second round after beating Andrew Smith of England 21- 11, 21-12. He will take on Nguyen Tien Minh of Vietnam today.
Choong Hann and Chong Wei are the only two Malaysian men’s singles players in the fray following the tame exits of Lee Tsuen Seng and Sairul Amar Ayob yesterday.
Malaysia’s challenge also ended in the women’s singles when both Wong Mew Choo and Lydia Cheah crashed out in the opening round.