HK's fearless players

Kevin Kung

Three local badminton aces are eyeing medals at the Asian Youth Games in Nanjing next month

Kevin Kung |

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From left, Yonny Chung, Yoyo Ng and Alex Lee don't fear their opponents.
Badminton aces Alex Lee Cheuk-yiu, Yoyo Ng Tsz-yau and Yonny Chung don't fear their rivals at the Asian Youth Games (AYG) in Nanjing , even though they will be facing some of Asia's best young players.

Badminton is one of 10 newly added sports to the second AYG, and the three players will represent Hong Kong at the multi-sports showpiece. Alex will compete in boys' singles and Yoyo in girls' singles, with Yonny joining Yoyo for the mixed doubles.

Invented by the British in the 17th century, badminton is now dominated by Asians, mainly the Chinese, Malaysians, Indonesians, Koreans, Japanese and Thais. So our three heroes will be going up against some pretty strong opposition when the AYG kicks off on August 17.

But that doesn't faze Alex, 17, who has been a full-time professional at the Hong Kong Sports Institute for nearly two years. "I aim to have a podium finish in Nanjing," he says. "I've always wanted to win medals in tournaments since I turned pro."

Alex has already won two bronze medals at Asian Youth Championships: the first in the under-15 category in Chiba, Japan, in 2010; the second at the under-17 event in Dongguan , in Guangdong province, last year. He'll be especially weary of mainland players.

"They are tough opponents but not unbeatable. I beat them in overseas tournaments before, and I believe I can do that again in Nanjing," says Alex. He wants to use the AYG as a stepping stone for qualifying for the 2014 Youth Olympics Games, which will also be held in Nanjing.

Yoyo, 15, a Form Three student at Heep Yunn School, will compete in both singles and mixed doubles, which will add to her challenges.

"The matches for both events will be played on the same day, but I should have enough stamina to do well" says Yoyo. "I hope to reach the quarter-finals in singles."

Her partner Yonny, who suspended his Form Four studies at Diocesan Boys' School at the beginning of this year, started playing with Yoyo only a few months ago. The 16-year-old won both the singles and doubles titles at last October's All Hong Kong Schools Jing Ying Tournament. He admits that he and Yoyo started their partnership on the wrong foot.

"Yoyo rarely talked and did not give me any feedback. When we first played together, my returns were poor, which gave opponents the chance to hit smashes, usually to the girl's side," he says. "Fortunately our coaches spotted the problem and I realised that my bad shots may also affect my partner's game."

Since then, the duo have been playing well together.

The three players are now in Malaysia for a final warm-up before the AYG. From tomorrow until July 14, they will be taking part in the Asia Youth U19 Badminton Championships in the eastern state of Sabah.

Also, see Kevin's previews of Hong Kong's other representatives to the 2013 Asian Youth Games:

- Athletics

- Fencing

- Football

- Girls' rugby

- Golf

- Handball

- Judo

- Rugby

- Squash

- Swimming

- Table tennis

- Tennis