The new status has given doubles shuttler Tan Wee Kiong renewed motivation for the Thomas Cup Finals from May 16-25 in New Delhi, as he wants to live up to his reputation with Hoon Thien How as the country’s top pair.
Last week, world No. 8 Wee Kiong-Thien How became the country’s No. 1 pair – overtaking the now-defunct pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong.
World No. 10 Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who had held on to the national No. 1 position for more than seven years, are expected to drop further as they are no longer playing as a pair following Kien Keat’s decision to quit the national team three weeks ago.
In Kien Keat-Boon Heong’s absence, Wee Kiong-Thien How will now be officially playing as the first national men’s pair in the Thomas Cup Finals, followed by world No. 14 and reigning Malaysia Open champions Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem as the second-ranked pair.
Both Wee Kiong-Thien How and Khim Wah-V Shem have been exempted from the Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) selection trial for the Thomas Cup at the Stadium Juara on Wednesday.
Only two more players will be chosen from the trial to complete the men’s doubles cast. Wee Kiong is bracing himself for the challenging task of justifying the No. 1 status.
“I was a reserve in the Thomas Cup squad two years ago (in Wuhan) and in fact, I did not get to play in any of Malaysia’s ties. This year, we will be going in as the top pair.
“It is a big change but one that I am looking forward to,” said the 24-year-old Tangkak-born Wee Kiong.
But first, he needs to address one issue – keeping his emotions in check.
At the All-England a week ago, Wee Kiong-Thien How lost their cool during their quarter-final match against Markis Kido-Gideon Markus Fernaldi of Indonesia. Thien How was service faulted several times and they eventually lost.
“I have certainly learnt from my All-England outing. I need to control my emotions on court. I did not agree with the service judge’s decision to fault Thien How and I could not accept his explanation,” he said.
“It is important to stay calm on court at all times. Hopefully, I will be more experienced to handle a similar situation in future. Thien How and I will just have to always remain positive.”
Wee Kiong-Thien How will get a chance to get it right when they compete in the Malaysia Open Grand Prix Gold in Pasir Gudang from March 20-25.
They have been given the top billing in the competition and a good showing will surely boost their morale ahead of the Thomas Cup Finals.
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