More to come from Tze Yong, says coach Hendrawan

KUALA LUMPUR: From zero to hero, take a bow, Ng Tze Yong.

The Malaysian men's singles shuttler's fairy tale run at the Birmingham Commonwealth Games ended today with a silver medal at the NEC Hall, following his 19-21, 21-9, 21-16 defeat to top seed and world No. 10 Lakshya Sen of India.

Despite the heartbreak, the 22-year-old can hold his head up high, especially after beating the likes of reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore and India's Thomas Cup winner K. Srikanth twice on the trot en route to his maiden major final.

What made his journey even more extraordinary is that the Johor-born was never part of the BA of Malaysia's (BAM) plan for the games, but only earned a last-minute call-up after world No. 5 Lee Zii Jia skipped the quadrennial meet to focus on the World Championships.

And what a masterstroke it proved to be as Tze Yong did not only inspire Malaysia to recapture the mixed team gold last week, defeating India 3-1 in the final, but he also went on to win the hearts of all Malaysians.

National coach Hendrawan admitted that Tze Yong, against all odds, had done his best but lost out to a more experienced player in Lakshya.

The fact that Tze Yong had played in more matches (11 matches in 11 days) than his 20-year-old Indian counterpart was another factor that must be taken into consideration.

"Firstly, congratulations to Lakhsya. We must concede that Tze Yong lost to a better player today.

"From the way he came back and changed the pace of the game proves he's a far more experienced player.

"That does not mean Tze Yong did not want to win, but the gap in experience and fitness made the difference today.

"Nevertheless, Tze Yong outdid himself here in Birmingham. He wasn't even a medal prospect to begin with," Hendrawan told Timesport today.

The former Indonesian world champion pointed out that Tze Yong's Commonwealth achievement is only the stepping stone for more to come.

Urging him to stay grounded, Hendrawan added: "Tze Yong must never stop learning. This is just a stepping stone. We must not overpraise him for his success, and we must not over-criticise him when he fails.

"We all play a part in developing him into a complete player. Let's not talk about the Olympics or world rankings just yet. Our aim is to turn Tze Yong into a complete player first."

Lady Luck continued to shine on Tze Yong as he was recently confirmed for the World Championships in Tokyo on Aug 22-28 following a last-minute withdrawal.

Tze Yong, who was initially on the reserve list, must now take the valuable lessons he has learned to Japan, where he will join Zii Jia and 2018 bronze medallist Liew Daren at the world meet.

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