Badminton Life

Light at the end of tunnel for Koo and Tan

The trials of Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong may be over, though no one is yet holding their breath.

The Malaysian pair were the toast of the men's doubles world when they won the All England title in 2007. However, it has been a downward spiral since then as they lost early in the world championship as well as this year's All England.

Added to that was a warning handed to Koo from doubles coach Rexy Manaiky. Rexy said Koo's fun-loving lifestyle and arrogance was threatening his place in the Beijing Olympic squad and he wanted to see an improvement.

Recently, the coach said the player's attitude had improved and that the two were talking. Koo's rehabilitation gathered momentum in Alor Star as he and Tan won the National Grand Prix men's doubles title.

Although the title itself has little significance in world terms, the fact that it was a title in some shape and form may be what the pair needs to return to their former winning ways.

They should also remember that they still displayed their vulnerability against lesser opponents, falling to Gan Taik Chai and Lin Woon Fu in the preliminary group stages.

After that defeat, it seemed that the pair were headed for an embarrassing early exit. But they showed poise and character to fight back and then defeat the number three ranked team in the world, Choong Tan Fook and Lee Wan Wah, in the semi-finals.

They lifted the title after a good victory over Ong Soon Hock and Tan Bin Shen in the final.

The duo can now look forward to April's Asian Championships in Johor Bahru with confidence. It is the ideal platform to start their rise back into world prominence.

It was at last year's tournament where the pair started their slide, losing to Tan Fook and Wan Wah in the final.

If they can win the title in JB, they can put one year of misery behind them. It would also be a great boost for the Malaysian team as they prepare for the Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta in May.

Koo can also win the confidence of Rexy and prepare for the Olympics.

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