(File pix) Malaysia’s rising badminton star, Leong Jun Hao has vowed to remain humble and not be ‘big-headed’after his recent string of impressive performances has resulted in him being seen as a worthy replacement to Lee Chong Wei as the country’s top men’s singles player. Pix by Hairul Anuar Rahim

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s rising badminton star, Leong Jun Hao has vowed to remain humble and not be ‘big-headed’after his recent string of impressive performances has resulted in him being seen as a worthy replacement to Lee Chong Wei as the country’s top men’s singles player.

The 2017 Asia Junior Champion said that he still has a long way more to go in his journey and career as a badminton player, and at the same time refused to be compared to Chong Wei who is also his idol.

“I do not want to think too much about what is being said about me by others out there (as Chong Wei’s heir apparent) because for me, I still have a lot ahead of me. I need to work very hard and train diligently to reach the highest level.

“I do realise that there are no shortcuts to success, so I am adamant on remaining focused in improving my performance. What I have achieved so far up till now is just the beginning for me,” said Jun Hao after finishing as runner-up in the Thailand Masters yesterday (Sunday).

Jun Hao, 19, was just no match for eventually champion, Indonesia’s Tommy Sugiarto who beat the talented young Malaysian 15-21, 16-21 in the final in Bangkok.

However, his achievement in advancing all the way to the final of the tournament is seen as a very positive indication that he is one to watch for the future in the men’s singles category after the country’s long reliance and dependence on Chong Wei over more than a decade.

The 2017 World Junior runner-up has proven that he has the necessary qualities of a future champion, such as grit, determination and fighting spirit which was clearly evident in his march to the final after having to begin his challenge in the tournament from the qualifying rounds.

What really made many stand up and take notice was when Jun Hao sent to experienced players packing, fellow Malaysian Zulfadli Zulkifli in the first round and Hong Kong’s Hu Yun in the semi-finals.

“I have learnt a lot from my experience playing in this tournament. I really appreciate this opportunity as I gained very valuable exposure in being able to go up against players who are seeded higher and much more experienced than me.

“For example when I played Tommy in the final, I learnt a lot, such as how to strategise a proper game plan especially when playing top players in important matches,” he said.

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