Badminton Life

Interview with Yap Kim Hock

Date: 13/1/2012

Yap Kim Hock born on 2 July 1972 at Muar, Johor, is a retired male badminton player from Malaysia, specialized in men's doubles. During early in his playing days, he partnered Tan Kim Her and formed a stable pair in international tournaments.

In 1995 after his partner and a few others doubles player left the BAM for a professional club formed by the legendary Sidek brothers which left Cheah Soon Kit and Yap Kim Hock without a partner. That's where both of them began their legacy winning numerous international titles, when they were paired up together. Yap Kim Hock and Cheah Soon Kit was the first Olympic silver medallist for Malaysia.

They lost narrowly to Indonesia's Rexy Mainaky and Ricky Subaja in a titanic battle. Yap Kim Hock was known by many to be lethal at the front court of the net and setting up for his partner Cheah Soon Kit for the kill. After he retires from playing, he was the head coach for Malaysia for few years and now the head coach for national junior squad which he produces world junior champion for the past 3 years consecutive in the boy's doubles event.

Yap Kim Hock

1. What age did you start playing?

9 years old, my father taught me in my home town in Johor. At 15 years old I entered the Johor state team.

2. Was it your intention to be a professional player from the start ?

It's all in a process, first I just picked up the sport because of the influences by parents. Then my game slowly improves. When I was younger, I like to watch Yang Yang and Morten Forst and other great play on TV. That's where; I had the mindset that I just want to be like them. At the age of 15 or 16 years old my target is to become a national player.

3. When did you realize you were good enough to be a world beater ?

From young I realize I was good enough to be a world beater as it was my target to become a national player. First I was Johor MSSJ champion in under 18 and 15 category. I realise I can match with the national junior but still a small gap. At Johor level I was champion under 18 at 16 years old. At 19 years old I entered the national back up squad. Last time we don't have sports school or academy like we have today.

4. How were you noticed at the national level ?

Back in Johor I was the under 18 Johor champion at the age of 16. As I told you in the previous question, there's still a gap with the national junior player. I lost in the early round at the national junior circuit. I988, my father decided to move me to KL as there are better sparring opportunities and KL Badminton Association (KLBA) has good players and I think it was a good move, if I've stayed in Johor I would have been wasted over there.

In January 1989 after 6 months in KL, it was the last year for high school which I studied at Jalan Temelur in Titiwangsa, Kuala Lumpur and it was the year for sitting my O Level examination (SPM). I represented my district and I won MMSWP under 18. Then later that year, I represented KL in MSSM I won the my first Junior national title. I won Fang Seng who hailed from Perak who was the national junior champion for 1986 and 1987.

5. Which year was you drafted into the national squad ?

In 1989 I was drafted to national squad, I played singles and doubles. In 1990 I focus on doubles, Wong Ewe Mun. He was the reserved in the 1992 Thomas Cup team. I partnered Tan Kim Her from 1991 to 1995.

6. Have you ever considered making a name in singles?

Yes, when I was a junior I played both. In 1990 I full focused in doubles.

7. Do you think Malaysia can captured it previous glory?

Yes I think they can make it, our players are already there. Koo and Tan and Lee Chong Wei are All England Champion, they had broken many national records. During my time, we only get to be in the national squad at 19 years old. Everything is better now, we have sports schools and we have a lot of players now and better pool of talents especially in the doubles department. The question is how to use these potential.

8. Did any of your batch mates made the same grade as you ? If not, what was the reason ?

Tan Kim Her he's the national doubles chief coach now. There are a lot of factors for those who didn't make it. Some players, they just want to be in the national team. They don't have the target to be champions. Soon Kit and me got the fire to excel and we spent a lot of time in badminton. In badminton, it requires a lot of own self discipline, training hard and a lot of focus. It's all based on one self, badminton is a thinking game. Thinking for yourself on how to succeed, attitude plays a big part.

9. How many years were you on the scene?

1991 to 2000

10. On your playing career which was the highlight of your career?

Olympic Games Atlanta, we were the first Malaysia's Olympic silver medallist. It was avery close fought match. Another highlight would be the 1995 Asia Badminton Championship. It was the first title with Soon Kit.

11. Which incident would you consider as a low point of your career?

Every time I lost in the final of a major tournament. Soon Kit and me had worked so hard and lost very close every time. That would be the lowest incident in my career but it was only for the period, it won't disturb future tournaments. That's why we were quite consistent.

12. How would you summarize your career?

If I made a decision as a player or a coach, I would think carefully first. So I would say I had to regrets and I'm happy with what I've achieved. I've set a few national record and beating my own record as coach and as a player.

13. Do you still play ? What other sports other than badminton ?

Yeah, I do still play. Just sparring with my players and some club tournaments. No, I don't play any other sports. Just badminton.

14. What do you think of the new points scoring system?

It's okay, not short and too long. It's very good for player to focus. One mistake for one point. Very good for badminton,

15. Which player you admire at the start, both at the local and the international scene ?

There were no specific player I admired, I like to watch all good players player and observed their court technique. I like to watch good coach, coaches and learn new coaching techniques.

16. As a player, what was your strength? Weakness, if any?

Strong spirit, spirit is very important element if you want to improve in the game. I'm a skill player, controlling my opponent is one my strength as well. As for weakness, I do not have a strong smash, finishing is not so strong like other world class player. I do have a strong controlling skill to compromise these weaknesses.

17. Is it important to have a favorite stroke? What was yours then?

Yes but badminton requires a lot of variety of strokes. To be a world class player, you have to master all kinds of stroke and execute them with quality and consistency. I do not have specific favourite stroke, I like all of them. Hehe

18. Can you name a few international players, current or retired, who you regard as best or famous for a specific technique or an area of skills?

I like the way Lin Dan brings up himself on court. He very strong spirit, better than me I would say. Chong Wei is very smart, he has the ability to know his opponent's game. In term of strength and weaknesses, he got this special ability at a very young age. Cai Yun very fast in the court both at the front and the back.

Taufik Hidayat very talented player, he is like born for badminton. Peter Gade is true gentleman, shows great sportsmanship. Lee Yong Dae is very talented and discipline. He has very good attitude in training and in tournament even if he's already star at a very young age.

19. Who do you regard as the all time best player?

For now I would say Yang Yang, he is very consistent and wins every time. He's performance in tournament is very consistent as well, as he won't lose in the early rounds.

20. Who were your coaches during your international days?

Cheng Xhang Jie of China, his training consisted of tough foundation training and physical demanding. Razif Sidek, he is a very experienced coach. Razif is the one who guided me to my Olympic silver medal in Atlanta 1996. Park Joo Bong for a short period before I retired, he introduced new training programme; the Korean style of training.

21. Can you spell out the difference in coaching styles from China, Malaysia, Denmark and Indonesia?

China has strong development system, they give full focus on players from 9 years old to they are at national level. Population in China is bigger as well, so they have bigger pool of talents. As for Malaysia, Denmark and Indonesia the development system is not so strong.

The young players depend a lot on parents. The training centre, everything has to be paid by the parents. Some parents have to work, and don't have time to send their children for training. This makes a lot difference. In Malaysia, there's a lot of parents plays badminton, the badminton focus is better than China but the development system is not as strong as China.

22. Do good players make good coaches?

Good coaches makes good players. Hehe. Yes of course to become a coach you have to a be good player. But it's all in a learning process.

23. You are coaching at the moment, whats the diffrence?

As a player all you think is about your ownself. Now I train players on how to become a champion. Last time, as player I used a lot of own strength for now I have to use experience and technical approach. It's a own different challenge, it's a new learning process.

24. What are the basic requirements to playing good badminton ?

Training, practice to execute the technical stroke the proper way; it requires a lot of court training have good quality and better consistency in your strokes and have strong foundation. Another important requirement would be court management and analyzing your opponent.

25. You are one of the best men's players Malaysia has ever produced, what's your vision in Malaysia badminton?

I would like to see a World and Olympic Champion.

26. Who do you think is current upcoming players ?and why?

Khim Wah, Mak Ee Chun, Vountus, Tan Wee Kiong, Goh Wei Shen, Teo Kok Siang, Andrew Chooi, Nelson. We have already potential players, I would a 6 years target to peak at year 2020. For singles, not so much as all good players moved to the doubles department but I would say Liew Darren, Iskandar, Zulfadli and Misbun Ramdan who are one the few who has the potential.

27. Is there any ways for BAM to improve their systems for better results on international scene?

They must see what their weaknesses are such as we are in the singles players department. New systems have to be introduced, maybe form another academy or a sport school for children age from 9 to 12 years old. If these children are supported by their parents, it makes developments slow to get talents.

28. is planning to start a badminton league. Do you think it will increase the level of the Malaysia badminton? Do you support the league?

I support it very much; league club tournament would definitely raise the amateurs to the top level.

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