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Badminton: ‘Vintage wine’ Cheah shows he’s the toast of the game

Badminton: ‘Vintage wine’ Cheah shows he’s the toast of the game

PETALING JAYA: Cheah Liek Hou (pic) is like vintage wine.

That’s the best way to describe the 34-year-old shuttler’s spectacular run of 14 straight titles, with the world para title in Tokyo yesterday the latest prized possession in his collection.

The Paralympic champion was peerless at the Yoyogi National Gymnasium where he outplayed nemesis Dheva Anrimusthi of Indonesia 21-14, 21-12 in 33 minutes in the SU5 (upper limb impairment) to secure his seventh title at the World Para badminton championships.

Yoyogi is where Liek Hou became the first Malaysian shuttler to win a Paralympics gold and he was happy to reclaim the world title he last won in Ulsan, South Korea, in 2017.

“Yoyogi definitely brings back fond memories for me. I won the Paralympics gold here and now I’ve regained the world title,” said Liek Hou.

“I’m very satisfied for being able to execute my strategy, and I managed to play the way I wanted against Dheva for this victory.

“I did study (through video analysis) how he played in earlier matches here and the key was to be patient.

“I’m happy to win again. This is my seventh title and overall, number 12 for me.

“It has been a long season for me and right now, I want to go back home and spend quality time with my family before competing again in February next year.”

Liek Hou’s aim of adding a fifth doubles title did not materialise as he and Faris Ariz fell 13-21, 12-21 to Dheva Anrimusthi-Hafizh Briliansyah in the final that lasted only 25 minutes.

Liek Hou conceded that Dheva-Hafizh were a better combination.

“My partner (Faris) is slightly weaker and it was tough for us to match the Indonesian pair. Dheva-Hafizh played better and they deserve to win the title,” added Liek Hou.

Liek Hou had announced before the tournament that his priority is to win the singles as his chances in the doubles are slimmer.

Meanwhile, his coach Nova Armada said the Liek Hou’s single-mindedness in wanting to win the singles crown has spurred him to play so well in the final.

“Liek Hou was determined and wanted win this title so badly. This is the reason why he was very solid throughout the tournament and played brilliantly in the final,” said Nova.

“After beating Dheva in the Asean Para Games (Solo) in August, we returned and started working on areas where Like Hou was lacking and he was well prepared and confident this time.

“It was always 50-50 between the two. So, I told Liek Hou to be relaxed and today (yesterday), everything he did on court worked for him.

“The doubles was more like three players (Indonesia) against two. Their placing and attacking was so good. Despite Liek Hou trying to cover the court, it was really tough for us.”

Malaysia also had another representative in the final where Noor Azwan Noorlan-Ikhwan Ramli lost to Rick Cornell Hellman-Thomas Wandschneider of Germany 11-21, 15-21.

FINAL RESULTS

(Malaysians unless stated)

Men’s singles (SU5): Cheah Liek Hou bt Dheva Anrimusthi (Ina) 21-14, 21-12.

Men’s doubles (SU5): Dheva Anrimusthi-Hafizh Briliansyah (Ina) bt Cheah Liek Hou- Faris Azri 21-13, 21-12.

Wheelchair men’s doubles (WH1/WH2): Rick Cornell Hellman-Thomas Wandschneider (Ger) bt Noor Azwan Noorlan-Ikhwan Ramli 21-11, 21-15.



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