PETALING JAYA: With his Olympic dream all but over, independent shuttler Liew Daren is contemplating retirement.
Despite reaching the semi-finals of the Spain Masters before going down 10-21,19-21 to world No. 5 Viktor Axelsen of Denmark on Saturday, Daren conceded that his lifelong dream of becoming an Olympian is out of reach.
The 32-year-old Daren will not participate in any more tournaments until the Singapore Open from April 7-12, wrecking any remaining mathematical chance of him breaking into the top 16 to join Lee Zii Jia at the Tokyo Games.
Now ranked 39th in the Race to Tokyo rankings, Daren’s creditable outing could propel him to No. 32 when the ranking lists are updated tomorrow.
But Daren will not be able to build on it as he won’t be competing in the next three meets in Europe in March — the German Open (3-8), All-England (11-15) and Swiss Open (17-22).
While he could not enter the All-England due to ranking eligibility (only for the world’s top 32), Daren had to skip Germany and Switzerland due to insufficient funds.
“Ideally, I would like to give both the German and Swiss Opens a shot but I really don’t have the money, ” said the 2018 World Championships bronze medallist.
“I came to Spain on my own and spent a fortune.
“But it was worthwhile as I made it to the semis. I’m quite happy with it.
“But this result isn’t going to make any difference to my Olympic qualification bid as I won’t be playing again until the Singapore Open.
“I didn’t sign up for the Indian Open (March 24-29) too as the official hotels are quite costly. If I opt for elsewhere, the food and logistics would be an issue.
“It’s also unfortunate that I could not make the cut for the Malaysian Open after dropping out of the world’s top 32. I have to accept that my Olympic dream is over.”
Daren admitted that he doesn’t know what the future holds for him now as he could retire by April.
“If possible, I would love to see out 2020 but that depends very much if I could secure enough funds to last me until the end of the year, ” explained Daren.
“Otherwise, I’d probably call it a day, ” added Daren, who has equipment manufacturer Protech as his sole sponsor.
Malaysia’s challenge in Spain ended after men’s doubles pair Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik also failed to advance into the final.
They lost 16-21,22-24 to Denmark’s Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen.
Men’s singles: Viktor Axelsen (Den) bt Liew Daren (Mas) 21-10,21-19; Kunlavut Vitidsarn (Tha) bt Ajay Jayaran (Ind) 22-20,21-12.
Men’s doubles: Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin (Tpe) bt Lu Ching-yao-Yang Po-han (Tpe) 21-14,21-16; Kim Astrup-Anders Skaarup Rasmussen (Den) bt Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (Mas) 21-16,24-22.
Women’s singles: Carolina Marin (Spa) bt Supanida Katethong (Tha) 21-16,21-16; Pornpawee Chochuwong (Tha) bt Busanan Ongbamrungphan (Tha) 14-21,21-15,21-12.
Women’s doubles: Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina) bt Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith (Eng) 20-22,21-16,21-10; Gabriela Stoeva-Stefani Stoeva (Bul) bt Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha) 21-14,16-21,21-9.
Mixed doubles: Kim Sa-rang-Kim Ha-na (Kor) bt Mathias Bay-Smidt-Rikke Soby (Den) 14-21,21-11,21-15; Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue (Fra) bt Yang Po-hsuan-Hu Ling-fang (Tpe) 21-16,21-13.