KUALA LUMPUR: After years of misery, doubles shuttler Vivian Hoo is out to end the jinx in the All-England.
Vivian will be playing for the first time with Yap Cheng Wen at the prestigious tournament starting on Wednesday in Birmingham – and nothing but at least a quarter-final finish will bring a smile to her face. And she will be hoping for some beginner’s luck for Cheng Wen.
Vivian and Cheng Wen qualified for the All-England last year but their coach Rosman Razak decided against sending them as they were deemed not good enough. In fact, no woman shuttler was sent to the tournament last year.
Even with her former partner Woon Khe Wei in the past, Vivian has never gone beyond the second round of the All-England.
“Cheng Wen and I need to go beyond the second round to stand any chance of remaining in the fight to qualify for the Olympic Games. I’ve never gone past the early rounds in the All-England, ” lamented Vivian.
The duo are currently ranked behind teammates Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean in the Road to Tokyo rankings. Only 16 pairs will qualify for the Tokyo Games and Mei Kuan-Meng Yean are in 10th spot while Vivian-Cheng Wen are 27th.
“We really need a touch of magic to make it happen. However, we will not put undue pressure on ourselves. The main thing is to enjoy every match.”
The draw has been quite favourable to Vivian and her partner, though.
The unseeded duo have been drawn against India’s Panju Dandu-Sanjana Santosh in the opening round. They should win the opener and play the winners of the match between Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu of Indonesia and Chang Ye-na-Kim Hye-rin of South Korea in the second round.
The eighth seeded Greysia-Apriyani are the favourites but the Malaysians gave the duo a good fight before going down 18-21,19-21 in the semi-finals of the individual competition at the Philippines SEA Games last year.
Vivian has been training at the National Institute of Sport, Expertise, and Performance (INSEP), a French teacher training institute and centre for excellence in sports that trains elite athletes at the Bois de Vincennes since losing in the quarter-finals of the Spanish Masters two weeks ago.
“The place is on the outskirts of Paris, it’s quiet here and training has been good. We will be leaving for Birmingham on Sunday, ” she said.
“The Spanish Masters was my first tournament since I took a three-week break following a knee injury. I’m in better shape now and I hope to lead my younger partner to my best outing in the All-England, ” added Vivian, who will turn 30 on March 19.