Badminton Life

Ong Ewe Hock Interview Part 1

This is the Exclusive Ong Ewe Hock Interview part 1, former World No. 2, brought to you by Badminton Information.
What age did you start playing?

At the age of 13th, in Penang, this was considered late. I was actually more interested in soccer at the start. My elder brother, Ong Ewe Chye was a national team doubles player and it was mainly because of him that I got interested in the sport as I tagged along.

He was six years my elder. He was the national doubles player together with the Sidek brothers (Razif and Jalani) and Cheah Soon Kit - Soo Beng Kiang then.

Was it your intention to be a professional player from the start ?

No, it all started by just taking up the sport as a hobby. As I got better, I was invited to train with the Penang badminton state program. I later competed in my state's junior championship which I won. The three best players from each state in Malaysia were selected to compete against each other, which I also won.

From there, I was drafted into the national set-up. As I mentioned, I preferred soccer to badminton so it was unexpected that I ended up as a professional badminton player.

When did you realize you were good enough to be a world beater ?

It's a step-by-step process, from taking up the sport as a hobby to wining a few junior tournaments to thinking "I want to be the best in Malaysia" to wanting to become the best in the world. It's really a gradual process. The mini-success I had at junior level brought about the hunger for bigger things to come.

How were you noticed at the national level ?

It was an automatic process in that from winning the state tournament at juniors to winning the juniors at the national level, the selectors took notice of me. I was eighteen (18) when I was drafted into the national junior squad.

Penang seems to produce quite a few successful badminton players at the world arena. Why is that ?

Penang has produced Datuk Eddy Choong, Teh Kew Sun, Koay Kar Lin, Ong Ewe Chye, myself to Lee Chong Wei, the current world number two. Penang has a system whereby the players start from very young at the age of seven.

Over weekends, there are gatherings organized by the Penang Badminton State Association for the youngsters to learn the basics of the game. We encourage them to come and develop proper fundamentals rather than them going outside and learning all the wrong basics from the start.

Which year was you drafted into the national squad ?

1991, after Form Five, when I was nineteen, straight after my SPM. I got involved full-time in the sport. I won the national junior under 18 and under 20 and I was regarded as one of the next batch of up and coming stars to replace the current crop of players then, which consisted of Rashid Sidek and the Sidek Brothers, Foo Kok Keong, Kwan Yoke Meng, Cheah Soon Kit and others; basically the nucleus of the side that won the 1992 Thomas Cup.

Have you ever considered making a name in doubles ? Since your brother was a national doubles player.

I actually won a few doubles titles at the national junior level but my aim was always to become a national singles player since the day I joined the state training programme.

Did any of your batch mates made the same grade as you ? If not, what was the reason ?

It's all down to commitment. Some didn't take it as seriously. There is also the talent element and the luck factor. One who did make the grade was Yong Hock Kin. He was the second singles for our national team then.

Interview Part 2

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