Soon Huat-Shevon silence critics, storm into Korea Masters semis

KUALA LUMPUR: Out-of-favour independent mixed pair Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai are far from finished in their pursuit of glory and a spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The world No. 14 showed the way by checking into the semi-finals of the Korea Masters today.

Soon Huat-Shevon stunned world No. 7 Kim Won Ho-Jeong Na Eun of Korea 16-21, 22-20, 22-20 in the last-eight clash at the Gwangju Women's University Stadium.

The Malaysians will face China's Jiang Zhen Bang-Wei Ya Xin tomorrow as they hope to reach their second World Tour final of the season after coming in runners-up at the Swiss Open in March.

It was in Basel that Soon Huat-Shevon had lost to the world No. 6 Chinese pair in the final.

Zhen Bang-Ya Xin reached the last four by knocking out another Malaysian professional pair, Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, 21-19, 21-9.

National No. 1 Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei made it a double joy when they powered past Taiwan's Chiu Hsiang Chieh-Lin Xiao Min 21-19, 21-17 to earn their next battle with reigning world champions Seo Seung Jae-Chae Yu Jung.

A relieved Shevon said this result was much-needed, especially after she and Soon Huat had gone through a rough patch of late, which led to them being dropped from the Road to Gold (RTG) programme last week. They have also been subjected to a lot of criticism from the fans who hurled hurtful comments, which among other things questioned their lack of fighting spirit and discipline, and some even called for them to consider retirement.

"Our pleasant run thus far has provided us with a huge morale lift. We're kind of upset with our performances recently, but it's great that we're able to get things right this week," said Shevon.

"It wasn't too much about RTG exclusion, I would say, but more about us wanting to do well and deliver better results.

"It's been frustrating because things didn't really go our way, and at the same time, we also got bombarded by negative comments.

"Initially, these hurtful comments upset us, but we've since overcome them and decided to let the noise be just noise.

"Right now, Soon Huat and I just want to do the best we can. Whether we can make it to the Paris Olympics or not, we still savour the process and make every single effort and sacrifice count."

A string of early exits sees Soon Huat-Shevon having heavy odds stacked against them in their bid to qualify for the Paris Olympics.

They are now ranked 17th in the Race to Paris, way behind Tang Jie-Ee Wei, who are now ranked ninth.

A country can only qualify two pairs provided both are ranked in the top eight.

With six months left before the one-year qualifying period ends next April, an Olympic debut is still within striking distance for Soon Huat-Shevon. All they need is several breakthrough results from top-tier tournaments.

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