By: Christopher Raj
MALAYSIA’S top shuttlers will compete in the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC), after all. There was speculation that Lee Chong Wei, the defending champion, was not keen on playing while the grapevine had it that hot doubles pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong would be ''shielded'' from the intense scrutiny that they are bound to come under but yesterday, the BA of Malaysia confirmed that all the top national shuttlers would compete in the April 10-15 ABC in Johor Baru. The ABC is the last tournament offering World Championships qualifying points and Chong Wei and Kien Keat-Boon Heong need to do well to be seeded come July.
NATIONAL NO 1 Lee Chong Wei and rising doubles pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong will, despite earlier speculation, lead Malaysia’s challenge in the Asian Badminton Championships in Johor Baru on April 10-15.
The decision to field them, despite Chong Wei indicating that he was not in the best frame of mind and the initial thought of ''protecting'' Kien Keat-Boon Heong, was taken after considering what their absence could do to their World Championships challenge in August.
Chong Wei, once the World No 1 but now slipping slowly, is currently ranked No 4 and skipping the ABC would have meant dropping further which in turn would mean a lower seeding in the World Championships in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 13-19.
For triple Super Series winners Kien Keat-Boon Heong, a semi-final or final finish in the ABC will mean improving their current world ranking of 10.
National doubles coach Rexy Mainaky said he decided on playing the pair after gauging their overall condition in training.
''They look okay and playing in the ABC is a chance for them to further improve their world ranking,'' said Rexy.
The other doubles pairs who got the nod were World No 6 Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah, Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock, Gan Teik Chai-Abdul Latif Zakry, Mohd Tazari Mohd Fairuzizuan-Lin Woon Fui, Chew Choon Eng-Hong Chieng Hun and Chan Chong Ming-Hoon Thien How.
On the singles front, Hafiz Hashim, Wong Choong Hann, Yeoh Kay Bin, Roslin Hashim, Tan Chun Seang, Sairul Amar Ayob, Lee Tsuen Seng and Ismail Saman will also see action.
Malaysian Open runner-up Wong Mew Choo will lead the challenge in the women’s singles category.
Wong Pei Tyi-Chin Eei Hui, the World No 6, will be Malaysia’s best bets in the women’s doubles. (nst.com.my)