A PART-TIME fitness instructor, an electrician and a couple of students from South Africa will be on a learning mission against Malaysia in their first Thomas Cup appearance in Wuhan today.
Their top player Jacob Malieka is quite familiar with Malaysia as he has been training at the New Vision Badminton Academy under Yeoh Kay Bin and K. Yogendran for the past two years.
Malieka, 21, postponed his business studies at Monash University in Johannesburg for almost two years and it paid off when he qualified for the London Olympics and also gets the opportunity to lead his country in the Thomas Cup Finals.
Third singles Prakash Vijanath is also a student while Willem Viljoen is a part-time fitness instructor and Dorian James is an electrician who has received the rare opportunity of playing in the Thomas Cup.
"We won the African Zone and it is a great feeling playing in the Thomas Cup. It will be good learning experience against Malaysia," said Malieka.
"I have been training in Malaysia and have improved but I have not come up to the level of beating the top players yet.
"I will be playing the first doubles with Prakash while Viljoen and James are our second pair. It is going to be a tiring but a exciting week for us."
After the Olympics, Malieka will continue his studies while training part-time in Malaysia. His teammates my also take a break.
The big nations will be battling for the crown but for the South Africans, just competing here is in itself a victory for them.