Cheah Liek Hou underlined his Tokyo Paralympic gold medal prospects with a polished victory at the Spanish Para Badminton International in Cartegana.
The World number two further cemented his credentials with a 21-13, 21-11 defeat of world number five Taiyo Imai of Japan in the men’s singles SU5 Classification final.
However, it was a bridge too far for another Malaysian, Muhammad Ikhwan Ramli in the men’s singles WH1 Classification final. Ikhwan who defeated second seed Lee Samseop of Korea in the semi-finals, was beaten by another Korean, top seeded Lee Dongseop 21-13, 21-16 in the final today.
It is Liek Hou’s second title of the year, having also bagged the Dubai Para Badminton International last month, defeating both of his strongest rivals – top ranked Dheva Anrimusthi and Suryo Nugroho of Indonesia, enroute.
Before the restart of the para badminton calendar after a 13-month hiatus, Liek Hou also won the title in Denmark, Japan, Brazil and Peru.
The 34-minute victory over Imai, showed that Liek Hou is in top form with the Tokyo Games looming.
The 33-year-old shuttler, coached by former Olympics bronze medalist Rashid Sidek, has been working on his fitness level and weight issues to take on his younger rivals. And his performance in Spain as well as in Dubai shows that it has paid off.
Liek Hou has been on a strict diet since last year and has reduced his weight from 75kg to 65kg.
Having won more than a dozen ranking titles (in both singles and doubles), Liek Hou is looking to make history by winning Malaysia’s first badminton gold in Tokyo where para-badminton will be an official event for the first time in its history.
Liek Hou started playing badminton when he was nine years old. He was born with a paralyzed right shoulder, and cannot lift his arm above his shoulders. But since his international debut in para badminton events in 20005, he has been a force to be reckoned and victory in Tokyo will be a culmination of his hardwork.