Tan Boon Heong and Koo Kien Keat (right) in their final match as a national pair after the latter retires from playing after losing in the third round of the badminton World Championships in Denmark. - BERNNAMA
COPENHAGEN: The body is weak but the mind is still willing – to some extent.
And that helped doubles shuttler Koo Kien Keat turn on some of his extraordinary moves in his final stint with Tan Boon Heong before the pair bowed out in the third round of the World Championships at the Bellarup Super Arena.
They lost 21-14, 10-21, 19-21 to Taiwan’s Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin but not before putting up a remarkable fight in the decider.
And, fittingly, they won thunderous applause from the locals as the loss marked the end of the duo’s 7½ -year roller-coaster ride.
“I was dead tired but I still could handle it. I managed to give a decent showing in all the games. I was not fit but I managed to use my experience to win some points,” said Kien Keat, for whom it was his last national assignment as he returns to Thailand to resume his coaching duties with professional club Granular.
For Boon Heong, it will be a new journey as he gets ready to partner Hoon Thien How at the Asian Games in Incheon.
Kien Keat, who quit the national team in March and hadn’t played with Boon Heong for the last seven months, admitted that he would miss being a national player.
“In a way, I regret quitting the national team ... I will miss playing for Malaysia,” he said.
“Everyone tends to know you when you are a national player. It’s nice to be noticed. I enjoyed it while it lasted.”
Kien Keat knows that he cannot have the best of both worlds and that, for now, he will have to concentrate on becoming a good coach.
“I enjoyed being a player and I also love being a coach, which is quite challenging. I’m looking forward to empowering the younger ones,” he said.
Asked if he will ever take to the court again as a player, he retorted: “Yes, for exhibition matches.
“Seriously, it is one of my dreams to promote badminton in a fun way. People say that I have many tricks up my sleeves and I hope to display badminton in a fun way.”
While Kien Keat takes a different route, Boon Heong hopes to find a second wave of success with Thien How.
“That was it ... my final outing with Kien Keat. It’s time to move on and try to revive my badminton career,” said Boon Heong, whose most outstanding results with Kien Keat were winning the 2006 Asian Games in Doha and 2007 All-England and finishing runners-up at the 2010 World Championships.