Badminton Life

Malaysians Look to Beijing Games for Glory

Although the Thomas Cup is just around the corner, the Malaysian team are already looking beyond the Jakarta finals and have targeted August's Olympic Games in Beijing.

The Malaysians are having to re-gather themselves after failing to reach any of the finals at the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC).

Their best performance came in the men's doubles, where former All England champions Tan Boon Heong and Koo Kien Keat reached the semi-finals before losing to eventual champions Jung Jae-sung and Lee Yong-dae, of South Korea.

Malaysia's chief coach Yap Kim Hock stressed once again to local media that the Beijing Olympics is the team's main priority, and not the Thomas Cup Finals, which is taking place from May 11-18.

"Our main goal is to produce the first Olympic gold medal for the country," Yap was quoted as saying.

Malaysia's first Olympic medal came at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when brothers Razif and Jalani Sidek took bronze in the men's doubles badminton competition.

It was a good year for Malaysia because the country also won the Thomas Cup that year in Kuala Lumpur.

But with the ABC disappointment, the Thomas Cup chances are looking gloomy. Yap, who won silver with Cheah Soon Kit at the 1996 Atlanta Games, said the Malaysians must improve in the coming weeks.

Said Yap: "I admit it was a disappointing campaign in the Asian Championship but the players will improve.

"Wong Choong Hann and Mohd Hafiz Hashim showed improvement in their form while Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong proved that their combination still works despite losing to the South Korean pair in the semi-finals."

Despite the poor outing in the Asian Championships, Kim Hock said he was satisfied with the performance of certain players.

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) is expected to announce the squad for the Thomas and Uber Cups sometime this week during the coaching and training committee.

Expected to play in the Thomas Cup team are the top three ranked men's singles players - Lee Chong Wei, Choong Hann and Hafiz while doubles pairs Kien Keat-Boon Heong, Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif are also expected to get the nod.

The Uber Cup players are likely to be Wong Mew Choo, Julia Wong, Anita Raj Kaur and Lydia Cheah in the singles, with the doubles pair of Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty also taking part.

The other doubles players in the running are Mooi Hing Yau, Ooi Yu Hang, Fong Chew Yen, Ng Hui Lin, Goh Liu Ying, Woon Khe Wei and Lim Pek Siah.

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