Badminton star Angus Ng Ka-long chats with rival Viktor Axelsen in Chinese ahead of BWF World Championships
Hong Kong ace is in Denmark preparing for start of prestigious tournament
No disrespect to the unseeded opponents he faces in the early rounds, but Hong Kong’s world number nine Angus Ng Ka-long is already thinking about the last 16 of the 2017 BWF World Championships held in Glasgow, Scotland next Monday.
“I’ll most likely be facing Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen,” said Ng. “I’ve never beaten him before. He’s a great competitor, so I need to focus on him.”
Ng is 0-4 against the 1.93-metre Dane, a record which stretches back to their junior days. While he does not consider it to be a particularly fierce rivalry, bragging rights are certainly up for grabs.
Both turned 23 this year, both hold very impressive junior records, both have defeated some of the world’s best, and both are very popular with Chinese media – Axelsen has wowed with his fluent Chinese speaking abilities.
Ng, by mere coincidence, is spending time in Axelsen’s home country in preparation for the championships.
“Preparations are good. I’m spending one week in Denmark to get used to the European time zone and climate. I want to be as ready as possible,” he reveals.
The pair met earlier this week, and communication was smooth. “We met and spoke in Chinese, but before the match, both of us will stay focused,” Ng says.
The stakes couldn’t be higher; the BWF World Championships offers the joint highest ranking points – 12,000 points, only matched by the Summer Olympic Games. Ng is not fazed by this golden opportunity to leapfrog up the rankings, however.
“Points don’t mean everything,” insists Ng. “It’s about reputation. If I win this tournament, I will feel honour and glory. That’s more important.”
The glory he speaks of came in bountiful supply last year. Ng was on top of the world after a history-making win at the Hong Kong Open, becoming the first local player to win the men’s single title.
“It was my proudest moment. I watched the competition every year and wanted to participate in it since I was a young boy,” he says.
He then reached the round of 16 at the Rio Olympics, but returned home disappointed. “I was full of regret after Brazil. I hope future tournaments will wash away the painful memories.”
As we approach one of the most prestigious badminton tournaments in the world, Ng has his game face on. “I feel good. I love competing. Every time I compete, it’s a chance for me to showcase my abilities,” he says.
And whether it is Viktor Axelsen, Lin Dan, or Maxime Moreels – the unseeded Belgian opponent he faces in the first round – Ng is ready.
“You should be confident in beating every opponent in your way. That’s the only way you’ll do well in a competition.
“Although [Moreels] isn’t that high-ranked, it’s still the first round and no-one is fully into that competitive mindset. I won’t be taking it easy.”