ALMERE, Holland, Oct 15 – Youngster Cheam June Wei has a chance to complete a glorious week for Malaysian badminton when he takes on India’s Sourabh Verma in the Dutch Open men’s singles final in Almere, Holland.
The 21-year-old reached his fourth final of the year by defeating last year’s European Junior champion Toma Junior Popov of France 19-21, 23-21, 21-10 in the semi-finals on Saturday but the win did not come easy.
The Malaysian was staring at defeat, with Popov holding match point at 20-15 but June Wei produced what was probably one of his career’s finest comebacks to win the second game.
Popov levelled at 21-21 but June Wei pressed on to seal the next two points to force a decider, which turned out to be a one-sided affair.
Mixed doubles gold with Hong Kong’s Ng Tsz Yau in the previous YOG in Nanjing, China, but it was not included in the contingent’s medal tally because he competed under the mixed-NOCs (National Olympic Committees) flag.
June Wei bids to become the first Malaysian men’s singles winner at the Dutch Open in 12 years. The last man to win was Sairul Amar Ayob, who’s now a coach in the national men’s singles department.
The other winners were Eddy Choong (1954 and 1956), Oon Chong Hau (1969), Wong Choong Hann (1997 and 2002), Roslin Hashim (1998), Lee Tsuen Seng (2001) and Hafiz Hashim (2005).