By: Rajes Paul
Petaling Jaya : It has been a year of many breakthroughs for young doubles shuttler Tan Boon Heong.
And he will be out to add another feather in his cap when he competes in the Doha Asian Games next month with his new partner, Koo Kien Keat.
Boon Heong-Kien Keat is one of the two Malaysian men's pairs named for the Games. The other pair will also be making their Asiad debut – Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Lin Woon Fui.
The 19-year-old Boon Heong, who has been a regular feature in international tournaments this year, will be out to end the year with a strong finish.
“A year ago, I would not have imagined all these (representing Malaysia in major tournaments). But so far, it has been a good year for me. I am happy with that,” said Boon Heong.
The Kedahan showed that he was a player with tremendous potential when he won the world junior doubles title partnering Hoon Thien How in Vancouver in 2004.
After a year of exposure to Open tournaments, he showed his prominence this year by emerging as the runners-up at the Asian Championships, partnering Thien How.
Boon Heong earned a surprise call-up for the Thomas Cup Finals in Japan and was a sparring partner for the players for the World Championships in Madrid.
He partnered Kien Keat for a runners-up finish at the Japan Open and was finally named in the team for the Asiad as the replacement for Chan Chong Ming.
The lanky shuttler, however, is determined to keep his feet on the ground despite being one of the national doubles coach Rexy Mainaky's favourite picks this year.
“I am still the same player. There is still so much more to be achieved. For me, the focus is on giving my best in training and competitions. I do not want to be distracted with anything else,” he said.
For now, the easy going Boon Heong has vowed to repay the faith the coach has in him by doing well in the Asiad.
“Kien Keat is my new partner and our best achievement was at the Japan Open. But I know I could have played better then (they went down to Indonesian veterans Tony Gunawan-Candra Wijaya in the final),” he said.
“I am working on minimizing my mistakes. It will be not be easy for us at the Asiad but we will not let our opponents intimidate us. We will give our best and try to win a medal.”
Based on Boon Heong's and Kien Keat's good partnerships and results, the National Sports Council (NSC) after a meeting with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaches, have projected the new pair to win a bronze in Doha.
The draw will be released on Saturday and if it is favourable for the duo, Kien Keat-Boon Heong may even have a shot at winning the gold medal. (thestar.com.my)