GEORGE TOWN: Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong paid tribute to Indonesians Gideon Fernaldi Markus-Kevin Sanjaya Sukamuljo after losing the men’s doubles final at the Malaysian Masters.
The veteran Malaysian shuttlers were full of admiration for the Indonesian No. 2 after losing 21-18, 13-21, 18-21 in a thrilling clash at the SPICE Arena in Relau.
Kien Keat said the Indonesians were not only fast but played with great courage.
“They fought for every point and kept showing great fighting spirit throughout the match,” said Kien Keat. ”I hope our youngsters selected for the Asia Team Championships (a Thomas Cup qualifier in Hyderabad from Feb 15-21) will show this kind of fighting spirit to overcome older and experienced players out there,” added the 30-year-old Kien Keat.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have named a team of debutants, selecting three pairs – Tan Kian Meng-Low Juan Shen, Tan Chee Tean-Tan Wee Gieen, Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin – and four singles players – Zulfadli Zulkiffli, Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, Soo Teck Zhi and Soong Joo Ven – for the Hyderabad tournament.
Having qualified for their second Grand Prix Gold final since they were reunited last year, Kien Keat-Boon Heong have strengthened their hopes of qualifying for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
They are now ranked 12th in the race for the Olympics, just one rung behind compatriots Tan Wee Kiong-Goh V Shem. If both pairs ended up in the top eight at the end of the qualifying period in May, they will qualify for the Olympics.
“Reaching the final here has certainly put us on the right track to qualify for the Olympics,” said Boon Heong, 28.
Kien Keat added: “We have a solid coaching team behind us. The next few months will be all about badminton and we hope to make it to Rio.”
For Kevin-Gideon, Sunday’s success was their second in world badminton since they teamed up in March last year. They won their maiden crown at the Taiwan Masters Grand Prix.
“Today’s win is more memorable. Kien Keat-Boon Heong are experienced players but our determination and speed were better than them today,” said the 20-year-old Kevin.
Kevin-Gideon will play as Indonesia’s second ranked pair in Hyderabad behind veterans Mohd Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan.