Cheah Liek Hou earned a huge boost ahead of the Tokyo Paralympics by defeating world para champion (SU5 category) Dheva Anrimusthi in the Brazil Para International final in Sao Paulo on Saturday.
The 30-year-old bounced back from a second-game blemish to beat the Indonesian 21-15, 10-21, 21-16 in 52 minutes.
It was his first win in six meetings over Dheva, who is the favourite at the Paralympics.
Liek Hou is determined to become the first Malaysian Paralympic champion in badminton.
The player has improved tremendously under former international Rashid Sidek.
Rashid said: “I hope the win over Dheva will offer Liek Hou the confidence ahead of Tokyo.
“Liek Hou played very well in the final. He was able to execute what he learned during training.”
The win was fulfilling as both Liek Hou and Rashid had faced anxious moments in Brazil as the organisers moved the event to another venue due to Covid-19 concerns.
The tournament was initially scheduled at the Paralympic Centre, the headquarters of the Brazil Paralympic Committee, where about 2,000 Paralympic athletes train daily.
The organisers felt that staging the event at the centre would put their athletes at risk and thus moved it to the Ibirapuera Gymnasium.
“The venue shift was a precautionary measure by the organisers to protect their athletes at the Paralympic Centre.
“No players were affected by the virus during the tournament,” said Rashid, adding that Liek Hou will start his campaign at the Peru Para International today.