Rashid Sidek Aids Cheah’s Quest for Paralympic Glory

What do you do when you want to win an Olympic medal? Or in the case of Malaysia’s Cheah Liek Hou, a Paralympic medal. You team up with someone who has achieved that feat as a player and a coach – Rashid Sidek.

Rashid has dedicated almost 30 years to the sport. (Photo: Preben Soborg)

No stranger to medals and trophies, Rashid helped Malaysia lift the 1992 Thomas Cup and won the men’s singles bronze at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, subsequently topping the world ranking in 1997.

At the London 2012 Olympics, Rashid sat in the coach’s chair as Malaysia’s Lee Chong Wei took on China’s Lin Dan in the final.

Cheah too, is a top ranked player in his category, currently second in Standing Upper (SU5) men’s singles, with 11 singles and doubles world titles to his name.

After getting off to a slightly sluggish start in 2019, and seeing the rise of younger, more agile players such as Indonesia’s Suryo Nugroho and world No.1 Dheva Anrimusthi, the 32-year-old turned to Rashid.

“I needed to change his style to suit a singles game because Cheah was a doubles specialist,” said Rashid.

Within a few months, Cheah’s improved physique and performance were hard to miss. Although he lost to Anrimusthi in the TOTAL BWF Para Badminton World Championships semifinals in August 2019, he went on to win the HULIC Daihatsu Japan Para Badminton International in November by beating Nugroho.

In February 2020, after five losses to Anrimusthi, Cheah defeated the 22-year-old Indonesian at the Brazil Para Badminton International.

Then the world was hit by a global pandemic. Tournaments were cancelled, countries enforced lockdowns and the Olympics and Paralympics were postponed.

When the lockdown was eased in Malaysia, Cheah joined the national shuttlers in training. Throughout June, he will endure six-day weeks comprising more than 20 hours of on-court drills and gym workouts each week but Rashid is confident his charge will take it all in his stride.

“He’s disciplined. Coaching is much easier when the player is aware of his target and goals,” said Rashid, who has no reason to doubt that gold is within Cheah’s reach in Tokyo next year.

Rashid at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics. (Photo: Preben Soborg)

The duo on the effects of the lockdown.

Q: What was Cheah’s condition upon returning to training?

Rashid: Different from before but we are slowly working to build up his fitness level and polish his skills. Since there is no news yet of tournaments, I don’t think there is a need to put too much pressure. What’s important is to make sure he is physically fit and free from injury.

Cheah: I lost about 8kg so that’s good. There was some lethargy because my sleeping hours changed but I’m highly motivated to get going. As we don’t have any tournaments, I have time to work on my fitness and avoid injury.

Q: What are some of the positives and negatives of being away from competition?

Rashid: For Cheah, it’s a disadvantage because before the lockdown he was almost at his peak and ready to compete in the 2020 Paralympics. Age is another disadvantage. For players competing back-to-back, the break may have helped them, but too long a rest would also affect their performance and momentum.

Cheah: I prefer to be in competitions as it is the only way I can assess my performance. The one good thing is I got to spend more time with my family.

Rashid’s guidance has given Cheah a much-needed boost. (Photo: Alan Spink)

Q: What was it like training in isolation?

Rashid: It works as long as player and coach have a good understanding and faith in each other. I didn’t see many negatives as things were put on hold, including tournaments. Therefore, there is not much pressure to prepare for competition and he has more time to focus on maintaining strength and fitness off the court.

Cheah: I worried about my condition but mentally, I thought like an athlete and remained positive. I was always in contact with my coach to discuss our next moves.

Q: What do you think will be the long-term impact of the lockdown on badminton?

Rashid: It will affect players’ incomes and their spirit of the game. Tournament environment may also be different as there will now be a need to follow the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard operating procedures and rules.

Cheah: We will have new rules for tournaments very soon.

Q: How do you think technology will influence the evolution of training methods?

Rashid: For physical training, maybe it can benefit the player but where skills are concerned, we still need to be present and prompt the player to make the right moves.

Cheah: It depends on how disciplined the athlete is in fully committing to it.

Q: How has the postponement of the Paralympics affected you?

Rashid: As a coach it doesn’t affect me much because coaching methods depend on the player’s condition and skills. But for Cheah, he was fully prepared to compete at Tokyo 2020 and it’s demotivating. As athletes, we need to find ways to maintain the momentum for the next tournament and slowly adapt to the new norm.

Cheah: It broke my momentum because my performances improved over the last few months. On the positive side, I now have more time to prepare. However, I will be one year older and don’t know what will happen next year.

Olympic and Paralympic News

A Role Model, Time and Again

A Role Model, Time and Again

22 October 2020
On This Day: Badminton Becomes a Paralympic Sport

On This Day: Badminton Becomes a Paralympic Sport

7 October 2020
Brian Kliwon: Umpire, athlete and future doctor

Brian Kliwon: Umpire, athlete and future doctor

6 October 2020
Manasi Joshi: Shining a Light on Gender and Disability

Manasi Joshi: Shining a Light on Gender and Disability

24 September 2020
Tokyo 2020: Paralympic Stars to Watch

Tokyo 2020: Paralympic Stars to Watch

1 September 2020
Robinson, the Kiwi Flying the World Solo

Robinson, the Kiwi Flying the World Solo

31 August 2020
Tokyo 2020 – A Long, Extended Wait for A Dream

Tokyo 2020 – A Long, Extended Wait for A Dream

25 August 2020
Countdown to Tokyo Paralympics Begins

Countdown to Tokyo Paralympics Begins

24 August 2020
Para Badminton Tournaments Suspended

Para Badminton Tournaments Suspended

13 August 2020
Barbara Fryer the High-Flyer Makes It a First

Barbara Fryer the High-Flyer Makes It a First

30 July 2020
Team Japan is Back on Court

Team Japan is Back on Court

11 July 2020
Extra Time a Blessing For Suzuki and Kajiwara

Extra Time a Blessing For Suzuki and Kajiwara

30 June 2020
Palak Kohli Makes the Most of the Great Outdoors

Palak Kohli Makes the Most of the Great Outdoors

25 June 2020
Badminton Triumphs Trump Cricket Dreams for Tarun Dhillon

Badminton Triumphs Trump Cricket Dreams for Tarun Dhillon

2 June 2020
Getting to Know … Daniel Bethell

Getting to Know … Daniel Bethell

20 May 2020
Sukant Kadam: How I Started Playing Badminton

Sukant Kadam: How I Started Playing Badminton

10 May 2020
Taliban Attack Survivor Won’t Slow Down Just Yet

Taliban Attack Survivor Won’t Slow Down Just Yet

8 May 2020
It’s All About Family and Country for Oktila

It’s All About Family and Country for Oktila

3 May 2020
Lockdown Highs and Lows

Lockdown Highs and Lows

23 April 2020
PNG Teen Ready to Fly High After ‘First Plane Trip’

PNG Teen Ready to Fly High After ‘First Plane Trip’

19 April 2020
With Willpower and Great Dedication Comes Vitor Tavares

With Willpower and Great Dedication Comes Vitor Tavares

14 April 2020
Behind the Scenes – BWF Classifier Dr Shamsul Azhar

Behind the Scenes – BWF Classifier Dr Shamsul Azhar

5 April 2020
New Dates Announced for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

New Dates Announced for Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics

30 March 2020
Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Postponed

Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games Postponed

25 March 2020
Spanish Para Badminton International Cancelled

Spanish Para Badminton International Cancelled

6 March 2020
Dubai Para Badminton International Postponed

Dubai Para Badminton International Postponed

5 March 2020
Poveda Can’t Stop Winning

Poveda Can’t Stop Winning

24 February 2020
Venue Change for Brazil Para Badminton International 2020

Venue Change for Brazil Para Badminton International 2020

9 February 2020
Bound for Big Things – Road to Tokyo: Krishna Nagar

Bound for Big Things – Road to Tokyo: Krishna Nagar

8 February 2020
Dong Jiong: A Champion of Change (Part 4)

Dong Jiong: A Champion of Change (Part 4)

23 January 2020
Dong Jiong: A Champion of Change (Part 3)

Dong Jiong: A Champion of Change (Part 3)

3 January 2020
Dong Jiong: A Champion of Change (Part 2)

Dong Jiong: A Champion of Change (Part 2)

28 December 2019
Dong Jiong: A Champion of Change (Part 1)

Dong Jiong: A Champion of Change (Part 1)

24 December 2019
Historic Venue to Host Para Stars

Historic Venue to Host Para Stars

27 November 2019
Double the Joy – Japan Para Badminton International 2019: Finals

Double the Joy – Japan Para Badminton International 2019: Finals

18 November 2019
Bethell Dethrones Bhagat – Japan Para Badminton 2019: Finals

Bethell Dethrones Bhagat – Japan Para Badminton 2019: Finals

17 November 2019
Kim Gives Kajiwara Four Years – Japan Para Badminton International 2019

Kim Gives Kajiwara Four Years – Japan Para Badminton International 2019

16 November 2019
Stepping Up in Tokyo – Japan Para Badminton International 2019

Stepping Up in Tokyo – Japan Para Badminton International 2019

15 November 2019
Fujihara Aims for Home Win – Japan Para Badminton International 2019

Fujihara Aims for Home Win – Japan Para Badminton International 2019

14 November 2019
Big in Tokyo – Japan Para Badminton International: Day 1

Big in Tokyo – Japan Para Badminton International: Day 1

13 November 2019
Blazing A Trail to Tokyo 2020

Blazing A Trail to Tokyo 2020

12 November 2019
Might of Mind Over Matter – Road To Tokyo: Valeska Knoblauch

Might of Mind Over Matter – Road To Tokyo: Valeska Knoblauch

5 November 2019
Excitement for Paralympic Games in Overdrive

Excitement for Paralympic Games in Overdrive

1 November 2019
Record-Breaking Demand for Paralympics Tickets

Record-Breaking Demand for Paralympics Tickets

21 October 2019
Suzuki, Mazur, Cheah Strike Twice – Thai Para-Badminton Int’l: Finals

Suzuki, Mazur, Cheah Strike Twice – Thai Para-Badminton Int’l: Finals

22 September 2019
Double Gold for Wetwithan – Thai Para-Badminton Int’l: Finals

Double Gold for Wetwithan – Thai Para-Badminton Int’l: Finals

21 September 2019
Chu Claims Champion Scalp – Thai Para-Badminton Int’l: Day 5

Chu Claims Champion Scalp – Thai Para-Badminton Int’l: Day 5

20 September 2019
Focused on Change  –  Road To Tokyo: Manasi Joshi

Focused on Change – Road To Tokyo: Manasi Joshi

19 September 2019
Para Stars Head to Thailand and China for Key Fortnight

Para Stars Head to Thailand and China for Key Fortnight

17 September 2019
Teenage Threat on Two Wheels – Road To Tokyo: Liu Yutong

Teenage Threat on Two Wheels – Road To Tokyo: Liu Yutong

15 September 2019
Historic Day for Peru and Guatemala – Parapan Am Games 2019

Historic Day for Peru and Guatemala – Parapan Am Games 2019

2 September 2019
Born Fighter – Road To Tokyo: Tim Haller

Born Fighter – Road To Tokyo: Tim Haller

6 August 2019
At the Height of His Career – Road To Tokyo: Lucas Mazur

At the Height of His Career – Road To Tokyo: Lucas Mazur

16 July 2019
Close Battle for Top Spot

Close Battle for Top Spot

7 July 2019
Badminton Saved My Life – Road To Tokyo: Chan Ho Yuen

Badminton Saved My Life – Road To Tokyo: Chan Ho Yuen

5 July 2019
In-Form Bhagat Charges Ahead

In-Form Bhagat Charges Ahead

4 July 2019
Coombs Breaks Drought – Irish Para-Badminton International

Coombs Breaks Drought – Irish Para-Badminton International

24 June 2019
Kim Jungjun Ramps Up Training With Tokyo in Mind

Kim Jungjun Ramps Up Training With Tokyo in Mind

12 June 2019
Oktila’s Sights Now On World Championships

Oktila’s Sights Now On World Championships

13 May 2019
Dong Seop, Oktila Claim Treble – Canada Para-Badminton International

Dong Seop, Oktila Claim Treble – Canada Para-Badminton International

13 May 2019
Agitos Workshop a Hit With Participants

Agitos Workshop a Hit With Participants

1 May 2019
Bello Determined to Make History

Bello Determined to Make History

1 May 2019
Sky’s the Limit for Para Badminton in Uganda

Sky’s the Limit for Para Badminton in Uganda

22 April 2019
Team Japan’s Road to the Paralympics, and Beyond

Team Japan’s Road to the Paralympics, and Beyond

12 April 2019
Super Mum – Road To Tokyo: Yuma Yamazaki

Super Mum – Road To Tokyo: Yuma Yamazaki

10 April 2019
Athlete Wellbeing and Tokyo 2020 Top Priority for Commission

Athlete Wellbeing and Tokyo 2020 Top Priority for Commission

9 April 2019
Asia Shares Out Wins – Dubai Para-Badminton Int’l

Asia Shares Out Wins – Dubai Para-Badminton Int’l

8 April 2019
Qu Zimo Wins Triple Crown – ENESCUP 2019

Qu Zimo Wins Triple Crown – ENESCUP 2019

1 April 2019
Turkey Kickstarts Paralympic Qualifying

Turkey Kickstarts Paralympic Qualifying

25 March 2019