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Wong Choong Hann Pulls Out of National Champs to Focus on Olympic Hopes

Malaysia's National Championships in northern Malaysia has been further hit by the withdrawal of Wong Chon Han from the tournament.

Wong decided to skip the tournament to focus his attention on the US$120,000 Indian Open.

The Malaysian player, who dropped to 16th in the world from 15, wants to boost his world ranking so he can enhance his chances of representing his country at the Beijing Olympic Games.

National coach Yap Kim Hock said although Wong is 16 in the world and inside the Olympic cut-off, they cannot afford to let him slip any further and need him to pick up as many ranking points as possible.

"We are not taking chances with Chon Han's qualification for the Olympics. The India Open is another chance for him to strengthen his bid to make the cut," Yap was quoted as saying in local media.

"The National GP Finals is before the India Open. But we have exempted Choong Han from the premier local tournament because we want him to concentrate on his Olympic Games qualification.

"But the challenge in the India Open will not be easy for him. Some of the top Chinese players have confirmed their participation. A good performance will be good for his morale."

It is a blow for the national tournament, though, which has already seen several big-name local players pull out because of various reasons.

However, world number two Lee Chong Wei is due to play and is hoping to win the tournament for the seventh straight time.

As for the 31-year-old Wong, he is one of only two highly ranked Malaysian players to take part in India, with Yeoh Kay Bin joining him.

He is seeded to meet South Korea's dangerous Park Sung-hwan in the quarter-finals and, if he makes it past him, is expected to meet top-seeded Bao Chunlai, of China, in the semis.

Also taking part in the Indian Open is All England champion and second seed Chen Jin, of China, Singapore's Ronald Susilo and Japan's Shoji Sato.

The cut-off date for Olympic qualification is April 30 and only the top 16 players will be assured of their places in the Beijing line-up. Chong Wei is already expected to secure the second seeding for the Beijing tournament.

Malaysia's top women's player, Wong Mew Choo is also playing in India. She is ranked ninth in the world but wants to enter the top eight and therefore receive a good seeding for Beijing.

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