Birmingham hero Tze Yong remains grounded ahead of world meet

SEPANG: Men's singles Ng Tze Yong is staying grounded ahead of his World Championships debut in Tokyo this month, despite his two medal exploits at the recent Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

The 22-year-old, who stood in for the absent Lee Zii Jia at the quadrennial Games, returned to a hero's welcome at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport here today, after inspiring the Malaysian squad to a mixed team gold medal and a surprise silver in the individual event.

When asked about the World Championships draw, the Johor-born said: "My performance at the Commonwealth Games was my best. I really did not expect to win silver in the individual event. I now hope to carry this form into the next tournament.

"On the draw, I don't want to think too far ahead, but focus on one match at a time. My promise is that I will do my best."

Tze Yong, who was promoted from the reserve list for the world meet, will open his campaign at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium against Indonesia's Chico Aura Dwi Wardoyo, who won the Malaysia Masters last month.

The other top names in the top half of the draw include world No. 4 Chou Tien Chen of Taiwan, Indonesia's Anthony Sinisuka Ginting and Jonathan Christie, China's Shi Yuqi and world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark, whom Tze Yong may face in the third round should the Malaysian clear the first two rounds.

Based on his recent form, which saw him beat reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew of Singapore and India's Thomas Cup winner K. Srikanth twice in Birmingham, Tze Yong is definitely one of the tournament's dark horses.

The other two Malaysians in the fray are Liew Daren and world No. 5 Zii Jia.

Daren will take on Axelsen in the first round, and Zii Jia, who is in the bottom half of the draw, will play France's Brice Leverdez.

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