All smiles. Koo Kean Keat looks a happy chappie after meeting BAM officials on Friday. He has joined Thai badminton club Granular to rejuvenate his career while not totally severing ties with the national badminton body.
KUALA LUMPUR: Koo Kien Keat, one of Malaysia’s top men’s doubles players, has joined a professional club in Thailand in a bid to rejuvenate his career.
The 28-year-old Kien Keat, who quit the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) two weeks ago, revealed on Saturday he joined Granular, a club based in Bangkok, last week.
Kien Keat has started training with the club and one of his training partners is Bodin Isara.
Bodin is currently serving a two-year suspension meted out by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) for his involvement in a brawl involving his former partner Maneepong Jongjit at the Canada Open in July 2013.
Bodin is appealing to the BWF to reduce the ban. If he is successful, there is a possibility for Kien Keat to partner his good friend Bodin in the future.
For now though, Kien Keat said he would focus on the mixed doubles.
He will team up with former international Ng Hui Lin and the duo’s first assignment is the New Zealand Open in Auckland from April 14-19.
Kien Keat, who is looking forward to the birth of his first child this month, said he is excited over the new path in his badminton career.
“Granular have their own training centre and function as a professional club. My first tournament as a professional player will be at the New Zealand Open,” he said.
“I am trying out the mixed doubles with Hui Lin and see how it goes. I will also be playing in the doubles. But for now, the club have not confirmed my partner yet.
“It all seems fun and nice right now, but eventually I would like to focus my attention on making the cut for the 2016 Olympic Games in the mixed doubles. I partnered Hui Lin a number of times during our stint in the BAM but we did not win any titles. We upset some higher-ranked pairs though. If Bodin’s suspension is lifted, I may try the men’s doubles with him too.”
During his heyday with the BAM, Kien Keat was a top-class player in both the men’s doubles and mixed doubles.
In his 7½-year partnership with Tan Boon Heong, the duo won two majors – the 2006 Asian Games gold medal and 2007 All-England title.
In the mixed doubles with Wong Pei Tty, Kien Keat won a bronze at the 2006 World Championships in Madrid. Kien Keat also bagged the gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne with Chin Eei Hui.
When asked whether he missed his days in the national team, Kien Keat said: “I miss everything. The training in BAM has more quality. I miss my team-mates and even the junior players. The environment was good while it lasted for me.”
Kien Keat added that he has not severed his ties with the BAM, saying he would be ready to answer any national call-ups.
“In fact, I have been invited by the BAM for a selection trial on March 19 for the Thomas Cup Finals. But I am not able to make it due to my commitment to my new club,” said Kien Keat.
There is a possibility, however, for the BAM to include him as a reserve for the Finals in New Delhi from May 18-25.