Kien Kiat (left), seen here with Granular club coach Bodin Issara in March has been focusing more on coaching since he quit the national team. - LIM CHENG KIAT/The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Koo Kien Keat is not at his best.
But it will not stop the former international men’s doubles shuttler from serving a surprise in his final fling with Tan Boon Heong at the World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark, from Aug 25-31.
The 28-year-old Kien Keat quit the national team in March, but still managed to qualify with Boon Heong for the World Championships on merit. Although not playing together any more, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) gave the duo the green light to compete.
For Kien Keat, it will be his eighth World Championships.
In his debut at the 2005 edition in Anaheim in the United States, he won a bronze with Chan Chong Ming.
In 2006 in Madrid, he was forced to pull out after Chong Ming flew back home following his father’s demise. Kien Keat played in the mixed doubles with Wong Pei Tty and won a bronze.
He played with Boon Heong in six editions, beginning in 2007 (Kuala Lumpur), 2009 (Hyderabad), 2010 (Paris), 2011 (Wembley) and 2013 (Guangzhou). The pair’s best showing was reaching the 2010 final before going down to Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China.
Kien Keat, who has put on some extra kilos since joining Thailand-based professional club Granular as a coach in March, admitted that he was not super fit.
“I have been focusing on coaching since quitting the national team,” said Kien Keat.
“I started training with Boon Heong this week. Physically, I am not in the best shape. I am sure our opponents will not consider us as a threat. That is good because the pressure will be on them.
“I have played with Boon Heong for many years. I think it should not be a problem for us to click again. Our opponents will not know what to expect from us and that will make it interesting.
“I am confident of my ability and there is still fight left in my heart. Hopefully, we can pull off a shock or two,” he said with a big smile.
Despite being inactive for a few months, Kien Keat-Boon Heong are seeded 10th. They are in the same quarter with second seeds Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong of South Korea, sixth seeds Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin of Taiwan and 15th seeds Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata of Japan.
Two unseeded but dangerous pairs in their quarter are China’s Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen and Malaysia’s Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah. Kien Keat-Boon Heong may meet V Shem-Khim Wah in the third round.
“We have a simple target – to reach the quarter-finals. What we lack physically, we will try to make it up with good court coverage. Hopefully, Boon Heong and I will make it a memorable outing,” said Kien Keat.