Malaysia’s Ng Tze Yong: Walking the path forged by Lee Chong Wei and Lee Zii Jia

The 22-year-old world number 42 and Commonwealth Games mixed team gold medallist is poised to become one of the rising stars of the game as he benefits from the talent that helped shape the nations top male singles player.

By Sanjeev Palar
Picture by EDDIE KEOGH

Ng Tze Yong could just be the next big name in badminton.

With the departure of Lee Zii Jia from Malaysia's national squad, there is a void to be filled in terms of a finding the next national number one men's singles player.

This is a new problem for the Asian country, who had three-time Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei at their disposal up until his retirement in 2019. At which point, Zii Jia stepped into the role as he led the nation's charge at multi-sport events as well as Thomas and Uber Cup campaigns.

However with the current world number five opting to turn professional and go it alone earlier this year, he is no longer obliged to put on the national kit and Malaysia is in need of a replacement who can be called upon to spearhead their medal quest at competitions including the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, UK.

Having helped the nation win mixed team gold on Tuesday (2 August), Ng could just be the player that they have been searching for. Could he add another title in the men's singles event in England?

Malaysia's Ng Tze Yong in action at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Showing signs of badminton promise

Ng kicked off 2022 on a positive note as he climbed up the men's singles rankings from world number 60 to his current No. 42.

The 22-year-old reached the semi-finals of the India Open, and was stopped in his tracks by eventual winner, Lakshya Sen whom he managed to stretch to three games.

At the Swiss Open in March, Ng again got the opportunity to play against a top ten player in the form of Indonesia's Jonatan Christie who also needed three games to subdue the Malaysian.

He has been active on the World Tour circuit this season which has allowed him to hone his skills against much higher ranked opponents, even making the quarter-finals on two occasions at the Korea and Singapore Open tournaments.

Ng has also had the chance to benefit from learning from the nation's best in the form of Lee Zii Jia. The two were part of the same squad that won gold at the Badminton Asia Team Championships at the start of the year, where he won all three of his matches including his final against Indonesia.

The Johor born shuttler also played a role in Malaysia's most recent Thomas Cup campaign this year where he won both his group stage matches, but went down to Kidambi Srikanth in the quarter-finals, as India went on to lift the title.

Despite the score line, all the time spent out on court against much higher ranked players was a great learning opportunity that would pay dividends, as he was selected to the nation's 2022 Commonwealth Games squad.

Helping reclaim the mixed team crown

With Lee Zii Jia opting to skip the Commonwealth Games, the was a void to fill in terms of fielding a men's singles player in Malaysia's quest to reclaim the mixed team title.

The country looked to Ng to shoulder the responsibility and he certainly rose to the occasion.

Ng delivered a crucial point for his nation in the finals against India as he turned the tables on Kidambi Srikanth, whom had beaten him in the Thomas Cup last May. The rising star pulled off a shock win against the world number 11 as Malaysia went on to clinch gold.

His feat earned him high-praise from the national association's president, Mohamad Norza Zakaria, who shared with, "Tze Yong rose to the occasion by performing very gift this incredible feat (the gold medal)."

Malaysia win the badminton mixed team event the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Picture by EDDIE KEOGH

Trained by trusted talent

Ng has clearly benefitted from training under the same coach who trained the game's legend, Lee Chong Wei.

Hendrawan, who has been overseeing Malaysia's men's singles program, has worked with the likes of Chong Wei and then went on to work with Zii Jia. He is now focusing his efforts on bringing out the best in Ng.

The Indonesian coach who was instrumental in helping Indonesia lift three Thomas Cup titles during his time as a player, has enjoyed a successful transition into coaching where he has helped shape Malaysia's most successful players.

With Ng under his experienced hand, he should have all the tools at this disposal to sharpen all aspects of his game and become a serious contender in the future.

Team Malaysia celebrate after clinching mixed team gold at the 2022 Commonwealth Games
Picture by EDDIE KEOGH

How to watch Ng Tze Yong in singles action at Birmingham 2022

Having already won the mixed team gold medal, Ng has turned his attention to the men's singles event at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

His campaign is due to begin on Thursday 4th August, after receiving a first round bye.

The Malaysian will face Muhammad Irfan Saeed Bhatti of Pakistan in the round of 32 for his opening match. It's due to begin at 10:00am BST (09:00 GMT/UTC).

The Commonwealth Games will be broadcast live in many parts of the world.

UK: BBC TV, BBC iPlayer and BBC website.

Canada: CBC Sports, CBC Sports app

Australia: Channel 7, 7Plus

New Zealand: Sky, TVNZ

India: Sony LIV

Singapore: Mediacorp's free-to-air Channel 5, meWATCH, and YouTube.

Malaysia: RTM

Further TV broadcast and digital live streaming details can be found on the Commonwealth Games website here.

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