PETALING JAYA: The Tokyo Olympic Games deferment has given senior shuttlers Vivian Hoo and Soniia Cheah extended lifeline in the national team.
The positions of doubles queen Vivian and top singles star Soniia in the national team would have been under review after the Olympics in August – if it had remained as scheduled – but now, the duo do not have to worry.
The Games have been moved forward – almost exactly a year – to July 23-Aug 8 next year.
Under Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Project ‘24, only players aged between 18 and 22 are retained this year. Their goals are to reach the 2022 Thomas Cup Finals and win a gold at the 2024 Olympic Games.
The national body had even dropped their third ranked men’s doubles pair Teo Ee Yi-Ong Yew Sin for failing to fit the age limit.
Exceptions were made for the 30-year-old Vivian and Soniia, 26, as they were in the running to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
Vivian hopes her chance to qualify for the Games with partner Yap Cheng Wen will be back on track.
Vivian-Cheng Wen and all other shuttlers are waiting with bated breath for the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to unveil their new plans on the Olympic qualifying period.
The world body had to cut short their one-year qualifying period by cancelling and postponing many tournaments due to Covid-19 pandemic since last month.
They now have an option of either resuming where they had left off or abort the previous Olympic qualifying period and start anew.
“We are waiting for the BWF to make the announcement. If there are changes, Cheng Wen and I will surely continue our fight to qualify, ” she said.
In the Road to Tokyo world ranking that had been put on hold, Vivian-Cheng Wen are in the 25th spot and ten rungs below teammates Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean.
A country can have one pair for the Olympics if they are in the top 16 standings.
Soniia was as good as assured of an Olympic ticket before the postponement of the Games.
She is in the 18th spot and only the top 32 get to compete in the singles.
“I’m keen to see what BWF’s plans are. I’ve come this far and I will continue with the chase to confirm my ticket for the Games, ” said a determined Soniia.
Soniia did well this year to beat Akana Yamaguchi, the world’s third ranked women singles player from Japan, during the group tie match at the Asia Team Championships in Manila in February.
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