Filepic shows Tan Boon Heong (left) and ex-doubles partner Koo Kien Keat at the airport leaving for the London Olympics in 2012. They have since split with Boon Heong being partnered with double world junior champion Ow Yao Han.
KUALA LUMPUR: National men’s doubles shuttler Tan Boon Heong’s partnership with Koo Kien Keat may be over but the heat is still on the former to prove himself.
After a 7½-year roller-coaster ride with Kien Keat, the 26-year-old Boon Heong is ready to start afresh with Ow Yao Han.
Boon Heong’s first test with the 22-year-old Yao Han will be at the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold, which starts on Wednesday at Pasir Gudang. They have also been slated to play in two Superseries events – the Indian Open (April 1-6) and Singapore Open (April 8-13).
Kedahan Boon Heong has to start all over again after Kien Keat quit the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) two weeks ago. Kien Keat has now joined a professional club – Granular – in Thailand.
Their split had been on the cards for some time now. In fact, they had been under fire for their lack of results on the international stage for the last three years and BAM had considered breaking them up earlier.
BAM deputy president Datuk Norza Zakaria said on Monday that Boon Heong is still under scrutiny and that he should not take his place in the national team for granted.
Norza said that the new challenge for Boon Heong would be to emulate former men’s doubles world champions Hendra Setiawan-Markis Kido of Indonesia.
After going their separate ways in 2008, Hendra has done well to guide his younger partner Mohd Ahsan to the world title last year and they are now the world No. 1.
The stocky Markis has forged a strong combination with the young Gideon Markus Fernaldi. This pair did well to nail their first international title at the French Open last year and are currently ranked 11th in the world.
“When Kien Keat resigned recently, we did not want Boon Heong to lie idle in the national team. We asked the coaches to pair him up with a younger partner and make the combination work,” said Norza.
“He is now playing with (two-time world junior champion) Yao Han. We only want Boon Heong to guide his younger partner to greater heights. The senior Indonesian players have done well in this area.”
In the Malaysian Open GP Gold, eighth seeds Boon Heong-Yao Han have a huge task on their hands as they are in the same quarter with third seeds and All-England semi-finalists Markis-Gideon.
If they pass the litmus test against the Indonesians, they have a chance to take on defending champions and second seeds Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem in the semi-finals.
In the Indian Open in New Delhi, Boon Heong-Yao Han have a tough first round battle against second seeds and former All-England champions Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen of Denmark.