Daren, Aaron and Wooi Yik might earn Asiad spot after heroics

One for the album: BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria (fifth from left) and executive chairman of AirAsia Group Berhad and Group CEO of AirAsia X Datuk Kamarudin Meranun (fifth from right) flanked by national badminton players (from third left) Man Wei Chong, Tan Jia Wei, Lee Zii Jia and Leong Jun Hao and cabin crew at the mock cheque presentation ceremony yesterday.

SEPANG: World Championships top performers Liew Daren and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik are set to be rewarded with places in the squad for the Indonesia Asian Games from Aug 18-Sept 2.

The Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) said they may include Daren and Aaron-Wooi Yik following their strong performances at the world meet in Nanjing, which ended on Sunday.

Daren dazzled by battling through an ankle injury before losing to reigning world champion Kento Momota of Japan in the men’s singles semi-finals.

In the men’s doubles event, Aaron and Wooi Yik charged into the quarter-finals where they also lost to eventual winners Li Junhui-Liu Yuchen of China.

BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said he spoke to the coaching and training committee chairman Datuk Ng Chin Chai on the probable changes and will make a final decision on Daren and Aaron-Wooi Yik after weighing several factors.

But first, Norza wants to discuss with Daren to find out the extent of his injury. If Daren makes the cut, he will replace either Cheam June Wei or Soong Joo Ven.

“If we choose Daren, we’ll have to drop either June Wei or Joo Ven. We must discuss with Daren first ... give us two or three days and we’ll announce our decision,” said Norza.

If Aaron-Wooi Yik get the green light, the BAM will have to drop one of these Asiad-bound pairs – Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong, Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin or Chan Peng Soon-Goh Soon Huat.

“We feel that Aaron and Soh should be considered for the men’s doubles event, but they are playing in the Vietnam Open this week. It’s too close to the Asian Games and it might affect their performance,” added Norza.

“We don’t want to push them too hard, because they’re still young and we need to plan accordingly so that they will not be exhausted.”

Norza said that they were also waiting to find out the seriousness of Goh Liu Ying’s Achilles heel injury from an expert at the National Sports Institue (NSI) before making a decision on her partnership with Chan Peng Soon for the mixed doubles event at the Asiad.

Liu Ying injured her heel during the quarter-finals at the World Championships.

“Liu Ying says it is not serious, but we don’t want to take any chances, so we’ll wait for the expert’s opinion before we decide,” he said.

Overall, on the performances of the Malaysians at the world meet, Norza said he was satisfied and hoped it would be a turning point for Malaysian badminton to achieve greater heights.

He made a special mention to women’s singles player Goh Jin Wei’s fighting display.

“She had shown much improvement despite being drawn with last year’s world champion Nozomi Okuhara of Japan in the third round,” said Norza, who was present during the announcement of a massive flight sponsorship boost for BAM until 2020 by AirAsia at the AirAsia RedQ, the airline’s headquarters yesterday.

AirAsia Group Berhad executive chairman and AirAsia X group chief executive officer Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said they had committed RM1mil a year for the next three years.

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