Badminton: In dad's footsteps

Badminton: In dad's footsteps
Derek Wong.

He wasn't born when his father competed in the Thomas Cup Finals in 1986.

But now, shuttler Derek Wong will get a chance to experience playing in badminton's most prestigious team event when Singapore take part in the men's competition in New Delhi from May 18 to 25.

"I felt so overwhelmed with emotion when I was told. This is definitely one of the greatest news I have had this year," said the 25-year-old, whose father Shoon Keat competed in the 1986 Finals.

"I am really very happy to have achieved a little bit of what my dad has and I am sure he is proud of me.

"I am also really thankful that all our hard work is paying off and this will definitely inspire the whole team to work harder."

It is the first time Singapore men's team have qualified for the competition since 1986, and the first time the nation has made it for both the Thomas Cup and the women's Uber Cup Finals in the same year.

New Format

Like the Uber Cup, the men's competition follows a new qualifying format this year - instead of continent-based qualifying tournaments, teams are chosen according to world rankings, with a minimum of three teams from Asia and Europe, and at least one from the other continents.

In the Thomas Cup, the men were ranked 15th at the cut-off point, and will do battle in Group A, alongside traditional giants Indonesia, Thailand and Nigeria.

The draw was held in the Indian capital on Sunday.

In the Uber Cup, the women's team were drawn in Group B with South Korea, Indonesia and Australia.

Speaking on Monday, Singapore Badminton Association chief executive officer Ronnie Lim said: "I am really proud of our shuttlers and coaching staff.

"This shows that (we are) heading in the right direction and making inroads in our efforts to establish Singapore among the elite badminton nations of the world."

National head coach Liu Qingdong said: "I give full credit to the players for working very hard with me and trusting my coaching methods.

"Although we have been given a very tough draw, we will do our best and give the other countries a good fight."

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