Saturday February 16, 2013
Tan-Lai mixed pair withdrawn from prestigious All-England
By Rajes Paul
KUALA LUMPUR: Given a choice, Malaysia’s second ranked mixed pair of Tan Aik Quan-Lai Pei Jing would rather play in the prestigious All-England than the insignificant Austrian International Challenge.
But the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have withdrawn their names from the All-England although they’ve qualified. The All-England will be held in Birmingham from March 5-10.
That leaves the world No. 26 pair to compete in two other tournaments – the Austrian International Challenge in Vienna from Feb 20-23 and the German Open Grand Prix Gold in Mulheim from Feb 26-March 3 in a bid to earn valuable ranking points.
The duo are bidding to qualify for the World Championships in Guangzhou in August.
A country can have a maximum of three pairs if all are ranked in the top 24 by the end of April. Currently, the top three pairs in the country are Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (world No. 3), Aik Quan-Pei Jing (No. 26) and Ong Gian Guo-Lim Yin Loo (No. 28).
News about their omission came as a shock but a disappointed Pei Jing has decided to take it all in her stride.
In their absence, Malaysia will only be represented by Peng Soon-Liu Ying and Gian Gui-Yin Loo in the All-England.
“We were told yesterday (Thursday) that playing in three-back-to-back tournaments would be too much for us and we’ve been dropped from the All-England. We have to accept the decision,” said Pei Jing, who will leave for Vienna tomorrow.
“I was looking forward to the All-England, especially after Aik Quan and I did quite well to reach the quarter-finals in the Malaysian Open. It’s okay, we’ll prove ourselves in the Austria and German Opens.”
The German GP Gold will be a tougher test for them.
They are the top seeds in the Austrian Open, which is void of other Asians, and should nick the title.
In Mulheim, they’ve been drawn against fourth seeds Fran Kurniawan-Shendy Puspa Irawati of Indonesia in the first round.
“We beat this pair en route to reaching the Vietnam Open GP final last year. But, then, Fran wasn’t at his best because of an injury. They’re not an easy pair to beat ... we’ll be ready for a tough match,” said Pei Jing.
If they clear the first hurdle, they may meet South Koreans Lee Sang-joon-Kim So-young in the lower half of the draw. Pei Jing, who paired up with Aik Quan two years ago, said that the Malaysian Open breakthrough had given them the confidence to narrow the gap on current No. 1 Peng Soon-Liu Ying.
“We were struggling last year and couldn’t make much headway. In the Malaysian Open, though, we raised our level a notch higher and that was a relief,” said Pei Jing.
“Good training does not assure good achievements. One must have a strong mind and heart to handle the pressure in competitions. That’s an area Aik Quan and I are learning to deal with better.”