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Wednesday September 19, 2012

Koo-Tan birthday wish: Keep us together

KUALA LUMPUR: Top men’s doubles shuttlers Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong celebrated their birthdays in Japan yesterday and they had the same wish – to remain partners at least until next year’s World Championships.

Kien Keat and Boon Heong took some time off from training to cut a cake in Tokyo – on the eve of the Japan Open – as team-mates and team manager David Wee looked on. The duo share the same birth day and have been celebrating the occasion together for the last seven years.

Kien Keat turned 27 and Boon Heong 25 yesterday.

“Koo and Tan look very motivated. We celebrated their birthdays together with women’s coach Woon Sze Mei as it was her birthday too. The team are in high spirits,” said David in a telephone interview.

Birthday trio: (From left) Koo Kien Keat, Tan BOon Heong and Woon Sze Mei celebrated their birthdays in tokyo Tuesday. Birthday trio: (From left) Koo Kien Keat, Tan BOon Heong and Woon Sze Mei celebrated their birthdays in tokyo Tuesday.

“I can see Koo and Tan sticking together for a longer time. They have a good chance here after the re-draw following the withdrawal of the players from China. I’m hoping that they’ll reach the final.”

The duo’s wish to remain together, however, may not materialise if the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) exco have their way.

The exco, headed by Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, will decide today whether to split them or keep them together.

The council members are said to be not too happy with the duo’s recent form.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong, former Asian Games gold medallists and All-England champions, have been struggling over the last two years.

The final straw was at last year’s World Championships in Wembley when they went down with a whimper to South Koreans Ko Sung-hyun-Yoo Yeon-seong.

They dropped their coach Rexy Mainaky and pleaded for another shot under Pang Cheh Chang.

They showed some improvement but failed to make an impression at the London Olympics, losing in the bronze medal playoff against another Korean pair – Chung Jae-sung-Lee Yong-dae.

Many feel that Kien Keat-Boon Heong have reached a plateau and that it would be best for BAM to focus on the back-up shuttlers.

Even BAM president Nadzmi feels that Kien Keat-Boon Heong should be split and teamed up with younger partners.

If BAM do break them up, this would be the last time they celebrated birthdays together as a pair.

In the Japan Open, the second-seeded duo are in the same half with three other seeds – Japan’s Naoki Kawamae-Shoji Sato (5th), Japan’s Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata (4th) and compatriots Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong (8th).

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