SUBANG JAYA: Former world junior champion Mak Hee Chun was down in the doldrums after being dropped from the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) set-up in September 2012.
But after a long hiatus, the 23-year-old Hee Chun, who won the world junior boys’ doubles title with Teo Kok Siang in 2008, is now back to carve a name for himself once more as an independent shuttler.
Hee Chun has teamed up with former partner Chow Pak Chuu in a bid to revive his career. Hee Chun last paired up with Pak Chuu to win the 2008 Sukma (Malaysia Games) gold medal for Perak.
The pair, who are sponsored by equipment manufacturer Apacs, received yet another boost on Monday as Extreme Park Malaysia has agreed a one-year deal to cover their tournament expenses. Hee Chun-Pak Chuu’s goal is to qualify for the 2015 World Championships.
“When I was dropped by the BAM two years ago, I felt quite angry and disappointed with them ... and I lost my direction a little bit,” explained Hee Chun, who was paired off with various partners like Kok Siang, Lim Khim Wah, Tan Wee Kiong and Ong Soon Hock during his time with BAM.
“But my friends and former team-mates advised me not to give up the sport. I started serious training in May last year.
“Even then, I didn’t have any plans to become a professional player because I was worried about the financial instability.
“I did go to Taiwan for a short training-coaching stint and I played in three tournaments – the Malaysian International Challenge, Hong Kong Open and the Macau Open – with a couple of Taiwanese juniors.
“It was upon my return that Pak Chuu approached me and I decided to give it a go once more.
“Of course, seeing my former team-mates such as Khim Wah and Wee Kiong doing so well right now has also fired me up. I definitely want to catch up to their level as I still have a lot to offer to the sport and I believe that I can do it together with Pak Chuu.
“I am really grateful to Extreme Park for giving us this opportunity and we have three tournaments – the Swiss Open (March 11-16), Polish Open (March 20-23) and the French International Challenge (March 27-30) lined up for us. For the year though, we should be competing in at least 10 tournaments, and hopefully, gain enough point to qualify for the bigger tournaments and maybe the World Championships next year.”
Pak Chuu, who was in the national back-up team from 2004-2009 and was a sparring partner with the national players from 2009-2012, is ready for the challenge with Hee Chun.
“I’ve known Hee Chun for the last 12 years and we’ve also been running our own badminton academy – the VCR Badminton Training – for the last few months. I’m confident it will work out for us,” said the 26-year-old Pak Chuu.
“We are not short on experience and we have also been working together with former internationals like Lee Wan Wah and Chew Choon Eng. We are definitely ready for this challenge,” he added.