KUALA LUMPUR: The door is still wide open for former internationals Tan Boon Heong-Koo Kien Keat to represent Malaysia in major tournaments.
All they have to do is show that they are back in the business.
Boon Heong-Kien Keat, gold medallists at the 2006 Asian Games, will make their first appearance after going separate ways for more than a year at the US750,000 (RM2.7mil) Australian Open qualifying tournament in Sydney on Tuesday.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) technical director Morten Frost confirmed that they would be “closely monitored”.
“All the players are on my radar ... whether they are in or out of the BAM set-up, and even if they are juniors playing in some remote tournaments. I’m keeping watch and the best players will be selected,” promised Frost.
“Boon Heong-Kien Keat have done well before and it’s only natural that everyone wants to see how they perform. If they can produce good results consistently, I’ll even consider them for next year’s Thomas Cup Finals.”
Kien Keat quit BAM in March last year while Boon Heong left this March.
Their last tournament together was the World Championships in Copenhagen last August.
Although they had not played together for a long time, they still managed to give a good account of themselves before going down 21-14, 10-21, 19-21 to Taiwan’s Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin in the second round.
Although they quit the national team, their love and passion for the game brought them together again.
They also decided to try and qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games after signing a RM2mil sponsorship deal with property developer Seri Mutiara Development Sdn Bhd last month.
At the Australian Open, world No. 94 Boon Heong-Kien Keat will take on Hong Kong’s Alan Chan Yun Lung-Reginald Lee Chun Hei in the first round of the qualifiers.
If they make the main draw, they will face Japanese youngsters and world No. 15 Takeshi Kamura-Keigo Sonoda, who have ruffled some feathers on the international stage for the last one year.
The other Malaysian men’s pairs in action in the qualifiers are Mak Hee Chun-Teo Kok Siang, K. Yogendran-Vountus Indra Mawan, Lee Yan Sheng-Lin Woon Fui and Jagdish Singh-Roni Tan Wee Long.
Only Tan Wee Kiong-Goh V Shem will start from the main draw. Even then, they have a tricky first round against Denmark’s Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen. The others in their quarter are top seeds Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong of South Korea and fifth seeds Hiroyuki Endo-Kenichi Hayakawa of Japan.
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