KUALA LUMPUR: Youngster Cheam June Wei and world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei have something significant in common – both were trained by the same coach, Teh Peng Huat in Penang, during their younger days.
While Chong Wei has gone on to make his name on the international stage, Singapore International Under-17 champion June Wei is just waiting in the wings to do the same.
And on Saturday, the 16-year-old showed that he is on the right track when he reached the final of the boys’ singles for the first time in Division Two of the Kuala Lumpur Open at the Kuala Lumpur Badminton (KLBA) Stadium in Cheras.
He defeated R. Satheishtharan 21-12, 19-21, 21-16 in 50 minutes to make a strong claim for a place in the World Junior Championships in Bangkok from Oct 23-Nov 3.
His compatriot Satheishtharan, also 16, did well to keep pace but the Penangite showed more fire in the belly to book a final date with Asian junior champion Soo Teck Zhi on Sunday.
Reigning 100Plus National Grand Prix Finals Under-16 champion June Wei hopes his strong performance in the KL Open will earn him one of the four tickets for the World Junior meet.
The others who are probably going are Teck Zhi, Soong Joo Ven and Lim Chi Wing.
“I did not make the cut for last year’s World Junior meet, but this time, I have reached the final to strengthen my chances of going. It will be great to play with top players from other countries (the World Junior Championships is for those under 18) and I will surely gain a lot of exposure. It will also prepare me for the next World Junior meet,” he said.
“I have dreamt big in badminton since I was young. I trained with Chong Wei’s coach Peng Huat for five years (from age eight to 13). Then, I was roped into the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) programme. Hopefully, I can become like Chong Wei one day.”
On Sunday's final, June Wei, who lost to Teck Zhi in the semi-finals of the Kedah Open in June, said: “Our last meeting was very close and hopefully, I will be able to give him a good fight again.”
It was also another great day for Penang when their little gem Goh Jin Wei oozed class in her 21-9, 21-7 clinical victory over Thinaah Muralitharan in the Division Two girls’ singles event.
In the doubles event, Joyce Choong Wai Chi showed that she was made of sterner stuff when she made it to the final in two events. In the mixed doubles, Wai Chi and her partner Darren Isaac Devadass will take on Chua Keh Yeap-Chin Kah Mun while in the women’s doubles, she will be out to win the title with Yap Cheng Wen when they take on Cheah Yee See-Norshahida Baharum.