On 4th September, Cheah Liek Hou (谢儮好) became the first Para-badminton gold medalist at the Tokyo Paralympic Games. It was not only a dream come true for him, but a triumph for Malaysia as a whole!
This is the first time that para-badminton was recognised as a Paralympic sport. As such, Cheah’s historic win is one to remember. However, not much is known about our badminton champion, so here are some facts and trivia to help get to know him better.
When Cheah was born on 8th March 1988, it was discovered that he had Erb’s palsy. This caused his right hand to have less strength and stability than normal. Yet, this didn’t stop him from taking up badminton when he was nine. His mother realised then that he had a talent for the sport and suggested he develop his skills further. He later joined the Bukit Jalil Sports School to train.
Although Cheah started competing in badminton early, he only began exclusively competing in para-badminton tournaments after he obtained his degree in Business Management at Putra University. Initially, Cheah was part of the National Youth Team. However, he felt he could not handle their strength, and later moved to the disabled national team.
This did not make him less in the eyes of others. Cheah was trained by Chinese badminton legend Han Jian (韩健) and is currently under the tutelage of Dato’ Rashid Sidek, who coached Malaysian badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei. Coach Rashid was the one who helped Cheah overcome his balance problems. He also advised Cheah to train with non-disabled badminton players to increase his strength.
The 33-year-old has so far won six world titles and has 35 consecutive victories since October 2019 under his belt. His strong performance made him a gold medal favourite for this year’s Paralympic Games, and Cheah pulled through. However, his world titles pale in comparison to his win in the Paralympic Games. “This is the first time badminton is in a Paralympic Games so, of course this is more meaningful than the World Championships,” Inside the Games quoted Cheah saying. “This gold is for all Malaysian badminton lovers.”
Aside from his impressive victories, Cheah apparently had the opportunity to play with Datuk Lee Chong Wei. In 2008, he also succeeded in defeating Chan Peng Soon (陈炳橓), a mixed doubles player, during the Malaysian Games.
Currently, he lives in Kuala Lumpur with his wife, Dewi Fabriana, who is from Indonesia. Ironically, Cheah had to defeat the reigning world champion, Dheva Anrimusthi of Indonesia to secure the Para-badminton gold. His wife however was in full support of Cheah.
In his downtime, Cheah apparently likes to fish. After winning the Paralympic Games, we hope he’ll enjoy his time off with some peaceful fishing. He deserves it!