Interview with Chew Choon Eng
Chew Choon Eng (born 28 May 1976) is a male badminton player from Malaysia. He competed in badminton at the 2004 Summer Olympics in men's doubles with partner Chan Chong Ming. He was in the Thomas Cup team in the 2002,2004,2006 editions. Together with Chan Chong Ming they had reached the world number #1 in the world rankings.
Chew Choon Eng
1. What age did you start playing?
10 years old, picked it up from my dad. At 12 years old I represented Penang state.
2. Was it your intention to be a professional player from the start ?
At the start it was just for fun. At 15 years old I was first generation of the national academy at Sri Garden. It's something like the sports school like we had today. I was just striving to represent my country. Then after high school, I just want to be like my seniors Rashid Sidek and Foo Kok Keong. They were driving sports cars.
3. When did you realize you were good enough to be a world beater ?
When I was 20 years old, I upset the second pair for the country at that time was the Yap twins. They were behind Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock. Then at the age of 21 years, I upset the top Thailand pair of Tesana Panvisvas and Pramote Teerawiwatana , I was like the current pairs of the backup players like we have now. I was able to upset a few big names in the early rounds but not able to win the whole tournament. I was not so stable.
4. How were you noticed at the national level ?
Under 12 and Under 15 I was the national junior champion singles(MSSM). I won some national circuit championship as well. That when I was selected to enter the Sri Garden sports school when I was 15 years old.
5. Which year was you drafted into the national squad ?
15 years old I was in the academy(national junior). At 17 years old I won some international junior Open title with my first partner Rosman Razak and then at 18 years old I was drafted to the national backup squad after high school. At 20 years old, I entered the elite squad.
6. Have you ever considered making a name in singles ?
Yes, when I was 15 years old I focus on singles. Then around 17 years old I played both. After high school to enter the backup squad, at 18 years old I had to choose singles or doubles. I decided to fully focus on doubles.
7. Did any of your batch mates made the same grade as you ? If not, what was the reason ?
Choong Tan Fook, Lee Wan Wah, Roslin Hashim, Wong Choong Hann. There were many who didn't make it, from my point of view; badminton is not like running or weightlifting. There's a lot of factors need to be overcome. Yes everyone trains hard; training smart and thinking smart on how to make it is more important. You need to put on your thinking head to survive and succeed in this sport.
8. How many years were you on the scene?
9. On your playing career which was the highlight of your career?
In 2001, my partner Chan Chong Ming and me emerged as the bronze medallist in the 2001 World Championship. In 2002, it was a great year as we were ranked world number 1, prior to that we won the Japan Open and the Commanwealth Games. We were pretty close of winning the Thomas Cup in 2002 when we lost to Indonesia 3-2. It was unforgettable moment, as we defeated China at their home ground.
10. Which incident would you consider as a low point of your career?
1998 to 2000, I considered it as the lowest point. We could upset top pairs but couldn't produce any results. There's no breakthrough in our career, that would consider the lowest period.
11. How would you summarize your career?
Well I'm satisfied, everyone would have regrets I would say. Most people will think that if they do things differently, the outcome would be different. I would say I'm happy and satisfied; reaching the world number 1 rank is not an easy task. Even if I'm already retired, I'm still very much involved in this badminton line. I still love the sport.
12. Do you still play? What other sports other than badminton ?
Yes I do, but just for fun and sparring purposes. Sometimes my friends Wong Choong Hann or Lee Wan Wah wants sparring I would spar with them. Nope, I don't play any other sports, just badminton.
13. What do you think of the new points scoring system?
Well based on the previous point scoring format, the 7 points, 15 points and the 21 points. I would say 21 points scoring points format is the best so far. The 7 points scoring systems focuses fully just on psychology. The 15 points scoring format, is very physically demanding. The 21 points, you requires all elements physical, power, concentration and skills. It's very interesting and high intensity.
14. Which player you admire at the start, both at the local and the international scene ?
Park Joo Bong from Korea. I truly respect him as a player and as a coach. He's equally good in mixed and men's doubles. Truly an all rounder. I was extremely grateful to have Park Joo Bong as my coach. He's the coach who pushes me and help me to make breakthrough in my career. He also guided me to become the world number 1. As I recalled till this day, Park Joo Bong gave me a call after the 2000 Thomas Cup held in Malaysia, he told me he'll give me another 1 year to prove myself Chong Ming. If after that year, there's no results he asked me to send in my resignation letter BAM by myself. After that phone call, I'm like the man possessed with drive and I represented Malaysia in 2002,2004,2006 Thomas Cup editions.
15. As a player, what was your strength? Weakness, if any?
My strength would be setting up for the kill for my partner.It's more towards shots arrangement, skills and technical part. Another strength I would have is my agility and good movement. That's why I'm very fast at the net and setting up for my partner. As for weaknesses, my mental aspect is not strong. That's why game is not so stable, sometimes good and sometimes bad.
16. Is it important to have a favorite stroke? What was yours then?
Yes of course it's important to have a weapon to score points. It's more important on how to apply your favourite stroke. For example, the whole world knows Cai Yun and Fu Hai Feng 's game. Cai Yun is the one who set up for Fu Hai Feng to kill. The tricky part is how Cai Yun is able to set up for his partner to kill no matter in what situation of the game. So all in all, it's more important to know how to apply your favourite stroke. My favourite stroke is taking control at the net.
17. Can you name a few international players, current or retired, who you regard as best or famous for a specific technique or an area of skills?
Park Joo Bong, has amazing ability to control and set up for his partner; very consistent player. Cai Yun is also very good in set up and control. Very consistent player, no matter how tired he is or he had a tough match in all his rounds, he's able to give atleast 90 percent of his game. That's truly amazing. Markis Kido has high quality shots; you cannot guess where his shots are going. Hendra Setiawan, he is very steady, cool and consistent player.
18. Who do you regard as the all time best player?
Park Joo Bong, I admire his strong mental strength and steadiness.
19. Who were your coaches during your international days?
When I was at the national junior stage Kwan Yoke and Rahman Sidek were my coaches. When I enter the national team the coaches were Razif Sidek, Cheng Kang from China, Park Joo Bong from Korea, Yap Kim Hock and Rexy Mainaky of Indonesia.
20. Can you spell out the difference in coaching styles from China, Malaysia, Denmark and Indonesia?
All countries has different specialty. China focuses more power and speed. Korea is more technical part. Indonesia is also very technical. Malaysia is more overall as they have many different coaches from abroad. There's a lot combination, a little bit from everywhere but still the training style is not perfect yet. As Europeans, I don't know much as I hadn't had training Europe.
21. How do you regard the local coaching scene?
We need to focus at the grass root level and then state. In the state association we must quality coaches as well. Based on my point of view, development and set up in the country is not so good. There's still some room for improvement.
22. Do good players make good coaches?
A good badminton player, of course can be a good coach. Badminton is an individual sport unlike football it requires a lot technical and teamwork. A good badminton player becomes good on his/her own and proper guidance from his/her coach. What matter the most is the good player, has the heart and the communication ability to be a good coach. In another words, heart to teach is very important.
23. You are coaching at the moment, what's the difference?
There's a lot difference, as player you just have to think about yourself and improve yourself. Coaching is more stressful because if you have 5 players so you 5 different weaknesses and problems to improve on. You have to think 5 different ways to solves these problems from 5 players.
24. What are the basic requirements to playing good badminton?
Attitude; with the right attitude you can train up skills and footwork and etc.
25. As a former world number 1 men's doubles player, what's your vision in Malaysia badminton?
My vision is for Malaysia to produce World and Olympic champions. We have good and talented players, but we have not reached the level yet to be regarded as one the best badminton nation until we achieved these targets.
26. Who do you think is current upcoming players?and why?
Tan Wee Kiong, Goh Wei Shem, Mak Chun, Lim Khim Wah but it all depends themselves. A very good example like Arif and Chen Long, they were the same age, they were finalist in the Asian Junior. Arif lost in the closely fought match, more than less the standards are the same. After a couple of years, Chen Long is light years ahead of Arif. So I wouldn't say depends on one self.
27. Is there any ways for BAM to improve their systems for better results on international scene?
BAM is already doing a good job. From my point of view, BAM has to trust back their own people to teach the next generations. They paying a lot of money to foreign coaches but they pay very little to those local coaches. Malaysia has produced world number ones like myself, Chan Chong Ming, Roslin Hashim, Choong Tan Fook, Lee Wan Wah, Cheah Soon Kit, Yap Kim Hock, Razif and Jalani Sidek. Why these players didn't went back to BAM and be a coach. Choong Hann could be a coach, he's a very talented coach but there's something wrong between agreements with BAM
I would say. We former world number 1 still wants to fight for country and we love our country. Instead of paying thousands of dollars to foreign coaches, pay us. We fight for the country and of course we need to survive as well, that's why our Choong Tan Fook is coaching the Hong Kong team now. BAM has to take care of their world number ones and trust back their local coaches.
28. Badminton-information.com is planning to start a badminton league. Do you think it will increase the level of the Malaysia badminton? Do you support the league?
To run this league, you need sponsors. No money no talk. Of course, it will increase the level, it's good for players to gain experiences. Yes I do support the league.
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