PETALING JAYA: Independent player Soong Joo Ven stormed into the quarter-finals of the Korean Masters in Gwangju City yesterday, proving a point to the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
The national badminton body left out Joo Ven, ranked 68th in the world, from their Thomas Cup training squad while lower ranked players – Aidil Sholeh Ali Sadikin (No. 112), Leong Jun Hao (No. 121) and Ong Ken Yon (No. . 281) – got the nod together with world no. 7 Lee Zii Jia and national no. 1 Ng Tze Yong.
A fired-up Joo Ven downed fifth seed Heo Kwang-hee of South Korea 21-11, 21-19 in a second-round clash that lasted 40 minutes.
Kwang-hee made headlines last year after scalping tournament favorite Kento Momota of Japan in the group stage of the Tokyo Olympics to reach the quarter-finals.
“I’m very happy to reach the quarter-finals as Kwang-hee is not easy to beat. I want to continue focusing on improving and producing results to prove that independents like me should also be given the chance to represent the country, ”said Joo Ven.
“I was very disappointed not to be selected for the Thomas Cup. It is every player’s dream to play in these big tournaments.
“It’s not just me but the other independent players like Cheam (June Wei) should also be considered for coming major events this year like the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games.
“It’s totally a different thing to achieve quality results as an independent player. From looking for sponsors, training and competing in tournaments, we have to do everything on our own. We hope that our efforts will also be recognized. “
Joo Ven was also relieved after failing to reach the quarter-finals in three previous tournaments this year.
In January, Singapore’s world champion Loh Kean Yew stopped Joo Ven in the second round of the India Open while Mithun Manjunath of India was the stumbling block at the same stage of the Syed Modi International. The Malaysian was beaten by eventual runner-up Jonatan Christie of Indonesia in last week’s Korean Open in Suncheon City.
However, Joo Ven has a realistic chance of checking into the semi-finals for the first time this year if he can overcome Misha Zilberman of Israel in the last eight today.
“I don’t want to take him lightly as he is capable of beating top players on his day. He beat one (K. Srikanth of India) last week and I need to be focused against him, ”said Joo Ven.
Injury put paid to China’s Wang Hongyang’s charge to win back-to-back titles following the Korean Open success as he conceded a walkover to Lucas Claerbout of France yesterday.
In women’s singles, Goh Jin Wei crashed out in the second round after losing 22-20, 7-21, 12-21 to Wang Zhi Yi of China.
Jin Wei had done well to reach the last eight of the Korean Open.