IT’S been exactly one year since former international Jeremy Gan (pic) joined the Japan national badminton team.
In that brief period, he has turned the mixed doubles department into a force to be reckoned with.
Under the 40-year-old’s tutelage, Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino have gone from strength to strength and are now the world No. 3.
Yesterday, Watanabe-Higashino captured their third World Tour title when they defeated Thailand’s Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai 21-18, 21-18 to win the Perodua Malaysian Masters.
They are also last year’s All-England and Hong Kong Open winners.
“It’s good to see Yuta and Arisa continue to impress,” said Jeremy, who was the pioneer coach when Malaysia formed the mixed doubles department in 2009.
“I still remember when I first arrived in Japan, there was no mixed doubles department. It reminded me of how I first started as the first mixed doubles coach for Malaysia. As a coach, it gives you satisfaction when your players deliver results after starting from scratch.
“Now with the emergence of Yuta and Arisa, the Japan BA see them as medal prospects at the Tokyo Olympics.
“When Park Joo-bong (head coach) brought me into his coaching team, I was tasked with making the mixed doubles department great. Then, all departments were strong except the mixed doubles.”
On his working adventure in Japan, Jeremy said he was enjoying himself to the fullest although he has not mastered their language.
“Everything has been good. I really enjoy working there, but sometimes I do miss my family,” said Jeremy, who has a contract until the Tokyo Olympics.
“The tricky part is still the language.
“I’m attending some classes but I still find it tough.”
So how does he communicate with his players then? He said: “Surprisingly, there’s hardly any language barrier between the players and I. We communicate in “badminton language” and we understand each other well!”
Watanabe admitted that Jeremy’s Midas touch has transformed them into a world-class pair.
“We made huge progress last year thanks to him. He understands our movement, style of play, and shortcomings in tactics and helped us to rectify them,” he said.
“His guidance in training and competitions is very helpful. With all that combined comes a winning formula.”
Meanwhile, Japan continued to flex their muscles in the women’s doubles in the new season when world No. 1 Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota beat Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia 18-21, 21-16, 21-16.
Last year, the women’s doubles from the Land of the Rising Sun bagged titles in 22 out of 38 tournaments on the World Tour. Japan currently boast five pairs in the top 10 and seven in the top 15.