Saturday February 9, 2013
Badminton: Presence of world’s best pairs will set All-England alight
By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: Fans will get a taste of what’s in store for the rest of the year in the men’s doubles event when all the top pairs return to action at the All-England badminton championships in Birmingham from March 5-10.
Several top pairs skipped both the Korean Open and Malaysian Open last month but all the world’s best have now confirmed their participation in the All-England.
And national chief coach Tan Kim Her believes that the quality of competition “will be sky high”.
Unlike the men’s singles, which is dominated by two or three players, the men’s doubles is quite an open affair.
Five top pairs have shown consistent performances since the London Olympic Games. They are Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen of Denmark, Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia, Lee Yong-dae-Ko Sung-hyun of South Korea and Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.
Several others – like Kim Ki-jung-Kim Sa-rang of South Korea, China’s Hong Wei-Shen Ye, Japan’s Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa and even Russians Vladimir Ivanov-Ivan Sozonoz – look capable of upsetting the formbooks on their day.
Kim Her described this as exciting times in the men’s doubles.
“Yong-dae and Hendra are experienced players who have complemented their new partners very well. They have grown stronger in every match,” said Kim Her.
“Mathias-Carsten and Cai Yun-Haifeng are well-known for rising to the occasion in major events while Koo-Tan are slowly finding their groove again. There are several other pairs with the ability to strike it right.
“I believe that the men’s competition in the All-England will set the tempo for the rest of the year.”
Kim Her also gave the thumbs-up to the preparations of Kien Keat-Boon Heong, Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem for the All-England.
“All the targets have been spelled out clearly for Koo and Tan ... they know that expectations are high on them at the All-England,” said Kim Her.
World No. 2 Kien Keat-Boon Heong won the All-England in 2007 and were losing finalists in 2011.
“Khim Wah-V Shem will also be going to the All-England with a big mission. A good showing will help them book a ticket to the World Championships.
“They are currently ranked 19th but anything can happen from now until the end of the qualifying period. We do not want them to blow their chances,” added Kim Her.
A country can have a maximum of three pairs if all are in the top 24 bracket. Malaysia currently have five pairs in the top 24. They are Kien Keat-Boon Heong (world No. 2), Thien How-Wee Kiong (No. 9), Khim Wah-V Shem (No. 19), Gan Teik Chai-Ong Soon Hock (No. 22) and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif (No. 23).
The professional pairs of Teik Chai-Soon Hock and Fairuzizuan-Zakry are also competing in the All-England.
“Today is the last day of training ... we have to give our players a short break for the Chinese New Year. After that, it’ll be full steam ahead in training,” said Kim Her.