NG Tze Yong came to the Commonwealth Games as an also-ran. Now, the men’s singles shuttler is in the running for a medal in the individual event as well, based on his stunning performance in the mixed team final against India on Tuesday.
The youngster scored the win of his career when he toppled 2021 World Championship silver medallist K. Srikanth to turn hero for his team.
The unexpected win proved that anything is possible for world No. 42 Tze Yong, who wasn’t given much a chance after being chosen to replace Lee Zii Jia (No. 5) who pulled out to focus on the world meet later this month.
National singles coaching director Wong Choong Hann, although happy with Tze Yong’s performance against Srikanth, remained cautious of his chances in the individual event.
“It was a really good effort from Tze Yong. It was nerve-wracking but he managed to make it happen.
“Definitely every win is a step forward for him. But there’s still a lot for him to learn, to become even better,” he added.
Tze Yong, too, could not contain his joy and relief when he finally managed to get one over the Indian after losing twice to him – in the Asian Championships and Thomas Cup in May.
In the individual tournament, Tze Yong has been slated to meet Singapore’s reigning world champion Loh Kean Yew in the quarter-finals.
Tze Yong has never played Kean Yew before and although it looks to be tough, no one will be writing him off easily now.
Meanwhile, women’s singles player Goh Jin Wei is set to face a re-match against India’s world No. 7 P.V. Sindhu in the last eight after going down fighting 20-22, 17-21 in the team event.
Jin Wei, ranked 60th in the world, defied the rankings when she pushed the Indian all the way in the team event.
“She fought very well against Sindhu and would have put the Indian under more pressure if she had won the first game,” said Choong Hann. “Still, we are still proud of her fighting spirit which helped keep the team’s momentum going.”
While Sindhu will again start as the favourite, Jin Wei has no reason to fear the Indian now.