KUALA LUMPUR: National junior shuttler Cheam June Wei will never forget his first experience of playing with his childhood idol, world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei, during a training session recently.
It was only a seven-point match but it is still one that he will cherish.
“The first time I played against Chong Wei, I was only able to get one or two points. I was so nervous … I couldn’t believe I was playing a one-on-one match with him. But after that I was able to perform better and pick up like four to five points,” said the soft-spoken June Wei after a training session at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara on Friday.
He said that Chong Wei “is my inspiration because of his intelligent style of play and skills”.
June Wei was promoted from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) to the national team last month and is enjoying quality training sessions with some of the top players in the national team.
He even gets to spar with Chong Wei on Saturdays.
“The whole experience is amazing as the quality of training is different. The training here is tougher but the shuttlers are very nice,” said June Wei.
Despite the tougher training under coach Hendrawan, June Wei has managed to balance his time with his studies.
“At night, sometimes I attend tuition classes to prepare myself for my SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) examinations. Whenever there is free time, I usually watch movies or just sleep,” he said.
The young shuttler has one similiarity with Chong Wei, though. Both were groomed by the same coach – Teh Peng Huat – in Butterworth.
June Wei began training under Peng Huat when he was nine years old. And it is Peng Huat who first spotted Chong Wei’s talent as a shuttler.
June Wei is currently preparing for the Asian Junior Championships, which will be from Feb 16-23 in Taiwan. He is one of the four boys selected for the tournament. The others are R. Satheishtharan, Lee Zii Jia and Tan Teck Han.
“This will be my third time playing in the championships. I made the last 16 the last two years … so, this year, I am aiming to reach the semi-finals,” said June Wei.
If his determination is anything to go by, the Asian Juniors is set to be a perfect platform for Malaysia to witness the birth of a new star.