Badminton Life

Ong on verge of making his biggest breakthrough

PETALING JAYA: Ong Soon Hock's last name has the intonations of good fortune in Chinese but it has not been smiling on him in his badminton career for the past four years.

He almost quit the game after coming down with a rare disease in 2006-2007. And then in December last year he wanted to leave the national team like team-mates Lin Woon Fui and Khoo Chung Chiat due to a lack of outstanding achievements.

But the love for the game had always brought him back.

And thanks to his perseverance, he is now on the brink of making his biggest breakthrough in his career - earning a place in the squad to the Thomas Cup Finals.

All he has to do is to impress the selectors with his partner Hoon Thien How at the German Open, which will begin on Wednesday to book a place.

In January, Soon Hock-Thien How strengthened their bid for a place in the squad after a sensational win over defending champions Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung of South Korea in the first round of the Malaysian Open. And Soon Hock feels that this could be his year after so many ups and downs since joining the national team as a junior 10 years ago.

"For the first time, I feel that I have a shot at achieving something special in my career.

The win against the Koreans brought back self-confidence," said the 25-year-old Soon Hock.

"In 2006, due to a virus infection of my nerve (shoulder), my progress in badminton was hampered. I went for seven MRIs (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) before I was finally diagnosed with the rare disease.

"I wasted one and half years of my career but I did not give up. I was not ready to throw in the towel - not until I get to at least feature in the Thomas Cup and Olympic Games."

He came back strongly after that with Tan Bin Shen in 2008. Their highlight was breaking into the top-16 bracket in the world just within a year.

His game was topsy turvy following several changes in partners last year but this year, he is determined to get it right with Thien How.

"I almost gave up the sport in December because I was heading no where in my game.

"But the coaches decided to team me up with Thien How and we are looking at a chance to make it big this year," he said.

In the German Open, Soon Hock-Thien How will face England's Chris Langridge-Robin Middleton in the opening round.

In the same half are Singaporeans Hendri Saputra-Hendra Wijaya, second seeds Chen Hung-lin-Lin Yu-lang of Taiwan and Malaysians Gan Teik Chai-Bin Shen, Chan Peng Soon-Lim Khim Wah and Mak Hee Chun-Tan Wee Kiong.

"This tournament is so important to all the Malaysian back-up players. Thien How and I will go all out to do well."

The top seeds are Chong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and their main challengers in the top half of the draw will be Chai Biao-Zhang Nan of China.

Source from The Star Online

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