Filepic shows the Korean women's badminton team celebrating with the Uber Cup trophy after shocking China in the final in KL in 2010.
KUALA LUMPUR: It was a pleasant surprise for national doubles shuttler Vivian Hoo when she found out that Malaysia have qualified on merit for the Uber Cup Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.
In the list, released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) last week, Malaysia’s women’s team qualified by virtue of being the 12th-ranked team out of the 16 qualifiers for the Finals.
“At one point, we thought we would not make it as some of our players’ rankings had dropped,” said Vivian, who forms the nation’s No. 1 women’s doubles partnership with Woon Khe Wei.
“This is the first year that teams are qualifying based on overall ranking and thankfully, it has worked out well for us.”
Two years ago, Malaysia did not feature in the Finals in Wuhan when they did not make the cut via the qualifying tournament in Taiwan.
This year though, the BWF have scrapped the qualifying tournament and instead, the 16 teams have been chosen based on their March 5 world ranking.
According to BWF’s new format of qualification, the defending champions and hosts are exempted if they are ranked within the top 14, which then allows the next best team to qualify.
With that, top-ranked China and seventh-ranked India made it by virtue of being the defending champions and hosts.
Canada and Australia made the cut by being the top teams from Pan America and Oceania respectively.
Vivian, who nailed the SEA Games gold medal last year in Myanmar with Khe Wei, said that Malaysia’s inclusion in the Finals would lift the morale of the women’s team.
“As a team, we know where we stand and it is quite impossible to win the Cup. However, this is a great platform for us to work together and gauge where we stand.
“It will be a great experience and exposure. I will not forget my first Uber Cup Finals in 2010 (in Kuala Lumpur). Khe Wei and I played against China’s Yu Yang and Du Jing and we were beaten mercilessly. But since then we have grown into better players,” added Vivian, who will play in the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold in Johor Baru next week.
In the 2010 Uber Cup Finals, Malaysia went out at the quarter-final stage.
Meanwhile, in the Thomas Cup Finals, the men’s team have qualified as the third-best team, thanks mostly to Lee Chong Wei’s position as the world No. 1 singles player.
Thomas Cup Finals: 1. Indonesia, 2. China, 3. Malaysia, 4. Japan, 5. Denmark. 6. South Korea, 7. Thailand, 8. Taiwan, 9. India, 10. Hong Kong, 11. Germany, 12. England, 13. Russia, 14. France, 15. Holland, 16. Nigeria.
Uber Cup Finals: 1. China, 2. Japan, 3. Thailand, 4. South Korea, 5. Indonesia, 6. Denmark, 7. India, 8. Taiwan, 9. Germany, 10. Hong Kong, 11. Singapore, 12. Malaysia, 13. Bulgaria, 14. England, 15. Canada, 16. Australia.
(Note: China are the defending champions in both the Thomas and Uber Cup Finals while India are the hosts.)