Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sonia wants to build on her world junior success in SEA Games

SEPANG: There was an extra spring in Sonia Cheah’s step when she walked out of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) yesterday.

The 17-year-old Sonia had good reason to be on cloud nine as she had played a starring role in Malaysia’s mixed team triumph at the World Junior Badminton Championships in Taipei.

Suitably motivated, she wants to build on that success. Her immediate task at senior level is to do well in her first SEA Games outing this month. Then it is back to chasing her ambition to become a more successful player than former international Wong Mew Choo.

The 17-year-old Sonia is expected to play as the third singles in the women’s team event at Jakarta from Nov 12-19.

The two other shuttlers ranked higher than Sonia are her elder sister Lydia and Tee Jing Yi.
The doubles players in the team are Indonesia Grand Prix Gold champions Vivian Hoo-Woon Khe Wei and Goh Liu Ying-Sabrina Chong.

Their main rival for the team gold will be hosts Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand, who will be banking on their three-time junior world champion Inthanon Ratchanok to mount a strong challenge.

“I performed quite well in the mixed team event. I dropped a match in the tie against Hong Kong but made up by winning a point against South Korea in the final. I can look back on my junior career and be proud of being in the winning team,” said Sonia.

“I am determined to be a good team player in my first senior tournament - the SEA Games next week. I am only competing in the team event but I may be called on to deliver if the tie is level at 2-2. I feel more confident after the world junior meet.”

Malaysia’s women’s team pulled off a surprise at the Laos Games two years ago when they defeated Indonesia for the team gold - a first in three decades.

Despite her euphoria, Sonia has one regret: “I did not live up to my own expectations in the individual event. I had hoped to reach my first semi-finals but crashed out in the last eight. It was a close fight against Nozomi Okuhara and I was unlucky to lose,” she said.

The Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) student said that her ultimate goal was to be the country’s top woman shuttler.

“It is not only about filling the void left by Mew Choo but my goal is to be even more successful than her. I know the journey ahead looks challenging but I am willing to go the extra mile to reach the top,” she said.
Malaysia’s weakest department in the national team is the women’s singles. No one has stepped up since the retirement of 2003 SEA Games singles champion Mew Choo in April this year.


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