Shuttler Justin remains upbeat despite eight-month layoff

KUALA LUMPUR: Up-and-coming singles shuttler Justin Hoh is convinced that the worst is behind him as he downplayed the impact of the latest injury setback.

The 19-year-old remained upbeat even though misfortune struck once again last month, barely weeks after returning to competitive action from an eight-month hiatus due to an Achilles tendon rupture.

At the Guwahati Masters, Justin was going great guns until he picked up a foot injury during the semi-final clash against Indonesia's Alvi Wijaya Chairullah.

Justin revealed that his injury was not as bad as initially feared.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Justin should be set for his first tournament of the year at the Thailand Masters from Jan 30-Feb 4.

"It was just a minor foot tear, a new injury. If all goes well, I'll be able to resume full training by next week," said the world No. 67, who is tipped to be the next "Lee Chong Wei" by former national junior development director Datuk Misbun Sidek.

"In fact, I never let these injury concerns disrupt my focus in training," said Justin.

Following his promotion to the senior team last year, Justin has fared considerably well, winning two titles - the Malaysia International Challenge last year and the Uganda International Challenge in February.

A month before his lengthy injury layoff, Justin also made it to the semi-finals of the China Masters.

"My short-term goal is to quickly break into the top 32 and start playing on the World Tour regularly.

"I've got the Thailand Masters coming up; I hope I can get things started then and keep moving on the right trajectory."

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