DREAM: Shuttler sets high targets in bid to qualify for World Championships
CHONG Wei Feng, who has to perform beyond expectations in the European tournaments over the next two weeks to have any hope of qualifying for the World Championships, may just achieve it.
Although World No 17 Wei Feng faces a difficult passage in the All England which begins in Birmingham on Tuesday, his chances look good in the Swiss Open on March 12-17 where he can fancy a place in the semi-finals.
Despite having to face World No 10 Jan Jorgensen of Denmark in the first round and World No 4 Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia in the second round of the All England, Wei Feng has set a lofty target of reaching the last eight.
Even if he fails in Birmingham, Chong Wei can expect a good run in the Swiss Open as he is drawn to play three Taiwan players before a possible repeat of the All England opening match against Jorgensen in the quarter-final stage with victory pitting him, most likely, against Sony again in the last four.
Wei Feng will play Wang Tzu Wei in the first round followed by a possible second round encounter with Yang Chih Hsun and a likely third round clash with Hsueh Hsuan Yi before taking on Jorgensen.
"After years of trying, I have a chance to play in a major event. Although my world ranking is at No 17, poor results in Europe will see my ranking drop and that will make it tough for me. That's why I have set a quarter-final target in the All England and looking at the Swiss Open draw, a semi-final spot is possible," said Wei Feng.
"Should I achieve both results, I reckon my place in the World Championships will be secure but I need to really work hard my matches in the All England.
"I have never played Jorgensen before but I have a chance to do well against him and Sony is playing well at the moment. However, I don't intend to give up despite the tough draw.
"In the Swiss Open, I must stay focused and clear the preliminary rounds although I am playing against the Taiwanese shuttlers. If I clear them, it will be an All England repeat for me.
"The experience in the All England should help me fare better in Basel and it will be great if I can beat Jorgensen twice.
"I also want to beat Sony in one of those two matches and my physical condition has improved and I am more confident now."
Wei Feng is being put through a special physical training programme by Roesdi Ghani to overcome his lack of height.
Roesdi said Wei Feng, who stands at only 170cm, is one of the most hardworking players in the national team and is hopeful that the new weight training regime will make him a better player.
"He is really hardworking and puts in extra effort in training. He can bench press up to 70kg and gradually we are looking to improve that to 75kg which is almost equivalent to what (Lee) Chong Wei does," said Roesdi.
"But we are being careful to make sure that the weight training programme doesn't disrupt his progress in court training as he may get injured or become stagnant if the intensity is increased too much too soon.
"His bodyweight is also being increased and once he reaches 65kg, he should be able to go for more explosive workouts that would help him progress into a stronger player.
"He used to weigh 59kg but now has gone up to 62kg and once he returns from the European tournaments, we will gradually increase his work load to achieve the desired results."
A good outing in the All England and Swiss Open should give Wei Feng a positive mindset and it should also spur him to further improve on his physical strength to become an established international shuttler.