KUALA LUMPUR: Leong Jun Hao is the 2017 Asian boys' singles champion.
On Sunday, the 18-year-old shuttler landed his biggest major title so far when he saw off China's Bai Yupeng 21-6, 20-22, 21-17 in the final of the Badminton Asia Junior Championships in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The win also ends Malaysia's four-year wait since Soo Teck Zhi, who was the last BA of Malaysia (BAM) shuttler to snatch the crown in 2013 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) coach Kwan Yoke Meng was delighted with the overall performance of the squad, and said he hopes the team maintains their momentum all the way to the World Junior Championships in Yogyakarta, Indonesia in October.
"Indeed, I am very happy because it proves that hard work pays off. The team have done really well, making full use of all the facilities and expertise to come good at this competition.
"Jun Hao especially, has done everyone proud and it is only natural for people to expect him to win the top prize at the World Junior Championships this year.
"I don't want to put anybody under any pressure. Based on this competition alone, I can say that most players are of the same level and standard, so it will boil down to who plays well on their day.
"Another thing I'm happy about is that most of our players are only 17. Twelve out of the 18 players registered are still eligible to play in next year's Asia Junior Championships, as well as the World Junior Championships," said Yoke Meng when contacted.
Apart from Jun Hao's gold medal, Malaysia also won three bronze medals in Jakarta through girls' singles’ Eoon Qi Xuan, boys' doubles’ Chia Wei Jie-Ng Tze Yong and in the mixed team event.
At the previous edition in Bangkok, Thailand, Malaysia only managed one bronze medal through boys' doubles’ Ooi Zi Heng-Soh Wooi Yik.
Singles: Leong Jun Hao bt Bai Yupeng (Chn) 21-6, 20-22, 21-17;
Doubles: Di Zijian-Chang Wang (Chn) bt Lee Sang Min-Na Sung Seung (Kor) 21-19, 21-11
Singles: Yue Han (Chn) bt Pattarasuda Chaiwan (Tha) 21-15, 21-13;
Doubles: Baek Ha Na-Lee Yu Rim (Kor) bt Liu Xuanxuan-Xia Yuting (Chn) 21-12, 21-19
Mixed doubles: Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto-Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti (Ina) bt Na Sung Seung-Seong Ah Yeong (Kor) 21-19, 19-21, 21-9.