http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story...743&sec=sports

The Star Online > Sports
Sunday April 17, 2005
Wei Chung hopes more will take pro route

BY LIM TEIK HUAT PETALING JAYA: Singles player Pei Wei Chung, the pioneer professional player in Malaysia, is certainly an inspiration to those who are seriously contemplating a pro career.

Wei Chung plays in all the international Open tournaments as well as the graded ones in the calendar of the International Badminton Federation (IBF).

However, the difference is he is not a player from the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) and he has to seek out his own sponsors.

And after four years, he is not doing too badly either. WeiChung, now 30, is currently ranked No. 63 in the world rankings, his best ever position.

His determination was the very reason why he survived the initial foray into a career as a professional player leaving the national badminton team in the late nineties.

“I was already in the BAM Academy at the age of 14. But that time, the back-up players certainly did not have many opportunities to go for international meets compared to nowadays. I was paired up for the doubles later with Pang Cheh Chang,” he recalled.

The Sarawak-born player, who was the Sukma men's singles champion in 1992, eventually grew frustrated and left to venture on his own.

It was the advice from former national doubles player Tan Kim Her that inspired Wei Chung to gamble on a professional career.

“Kim Her told me that I should try it out if I was so keen on it. If I had the will, I should be able to succeed. At that time, no Malaysian player has turned professional. I can say I am the one who started this. Later Nusa Mahsuri also started sending out players like Roslin Hashim and Ismail Saman.

“It was very hard in the first year as no one recognised me. I used my own funds, raised through conducting coaching clinics, to compete,” said Wei Chung, who competes as a player from the AMP Sports Club.

Wei Chung still needs to get endorsement from BAM to participate in Open tournaments and he is thankful to the national body in this sense.

“As an individual, I am not under any obligations, unlike a national player who cannot secure sponsors outside.

“Wilson also helps out by being my equipment sponsor. I play in no fewer than 15 international tournaments every year, including the All-England.

“My only problem is that I lack sparring partners.”

Wei Chung, who now stays in Johor, said there are a lot of youngsters who are interested in badminton in this country.

“However, their parents may be apprehensive in what will happen if their children do not make it in the national team.

“They should not be afraid to come out and become a professional player on their own,” said Wei Chung, who currently makes between RM4,000-RM6,000 a month.

Wei Chung has given himself two more years to play at the competitive level.

“Now that I've reached my best ever ranking position, I hope to make a breakthrough and get into the quarter-finals of a five-star competition for the first time,” he added.