Personal view on Koo Kean Kit & Tan Boon Heong
by K.K. Lam
I feel compelled to write to share with you my thoughts on Kean Kit and Boon Heong's recent slump, as I wish to offer an unemotional and non-Malaysian perspective.
I have been following their performance since their peak before the Beijing Olympics. Actually saw them coming from behind to beat Cai Yun and Fu Hai Feng at the 2007 World Championships in KL. I was very impressed at the time.
But soon I witnessed a steady decline in their results. Couldn't help noticing that the pair got regularly into self-concious acts to woo the audience, e.g. Kean Kit getting down on one knee to do the trade-mark defence, before it was absolutely necessary, and not winning the point every time with that stint.
Boon Heong was not as showy, yet I failed to detect the same yearning for on-the-spot approval, though in a quieter way. At some crucial matches I saw them doing this act when they were ahead, and eventually got beaten. I had always wondered if this also became obvious to their coach.
Gradually I formed an opinion that they were immature because with their no. 1 world ranking back then the pair had no reason to hustle for applause as if they were Aaron Kwok performing on stage.
They shouln't mix up stints with matches. I felt something was not quite right but thought there would be enough experts in KL to treat this rather obvious "disease".
No, it appears not the case. Match after match, including those against the Chinese and Korean pairs, this strange act appeared mid-way, and significantly when they had taken the first game with relative ease.
Then it became montonously repetitive that their opponents got even and the Malaysian pair lost in the decider. Recently they got worse : beaten in straight games or losing to much lower ranked pairs, suffering earlier and earlier exits from important tournaments.
I couldn't tell if the pair had repeated the same crowd-wooing stints as before, because they now can't even get into the later stages of tournaments that had been broadcast live in Hong Kong.
In parallel, I have followed the articles on BAM's web-page. Successive coaches had made the point that the slump must be stopped and every assistance will be offered.
Just yesterday the same message was repeated on BAM's web page. Now they even convene technical meetings to find the right way to revive the pair.
In my opinion, this may be putting the cart in front of the horse. Yes, they probably will be the only pair from Malaysia getting the London ticket. But after all that have been said and done, it is incumbent on them to make their mark by winning matches and, even better, tournaments.
They should be told clerarly only results will count. and they must blossom in time for the London games. Right now it sounds as if the onus is more on BAM and the national squad, rather than on the pair, to deliver results.
I agree with Park Joo Bon that the pair must show absolute commitment and the necessary dedication to hard training. I think too much attention is being paid to finding out why they had slumped. It is really up to the pair to do the ultimate soul-searching, and cut bad habits from their game.
Meanwhile, they should be treated just like other members of the national squad, namely deliver results or get dropped. In the way they are being handled. I am afraid other pairs in the national squad could become alienated by the differential treatments.
Indeed too much attention would also breed excessive stress on the pair, which could prove counter-productive, especially at a time when they have to mature emotionally.
So much for now. Cheers.