More to get into the mix


Second in line: Goh Soon Huat (back) and partner Shevon Jemie Lai still have a mathematical chance of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympic Games as they are ranked 11th in the Race to Tokyo.

PETALING JAYA: With just four pairs under him, mixed doubles head coach Paulus Firman admits that his department needs to be expanded – but it’s not a priority for now.

The 52-year-old Indonesian said he would like to bring in fresh blood into the squad, especially those aged 21 and below from next year, as he prepares his players for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The pairs under his charge now are world No. 11 Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing, Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (No. 12), Hoo Pang Ron-Cheah Yee See (No. 35) and Cheng Tang Jie-Peck Yen Wei (No. 57).

Soon Huat is the oldest at 30, while the youngest, Tang Jie and Pang Ron, are 22.

“With assistant (Teo) Kok Siang, we should be able to handle a maximum of six pairs, ” said Paulus, who was moved from the men’s doubles department in a recent reshuffle.

“We definitely want to rope in more players, but we’re not in a hurry because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We probably will have to wait until next year.

“We certainly have to increase our pairing options. The players we intend to bring in will have to be aged under 21. These players will be targeted for Paris 2024.”

To help identify more players to be made mixed doubles specialists, Paulus said he had suggested to coaching director Wong Choong Hann that all young doubles players should be entered for dual events in the future.

“There’s absolutely no issue in making youngsters play in two events. They have more than enough energy and fire in them, ” said Paulus.

“Playing in more matches will only do them good. By having more players to pick from, we will be able to identify suitable candidates for the mixed doubles event.”

Paulus stressed that what matters most to him now was to beef up his top two combinations ahead of the resumption of Olympics qualification next year, .

Soon Huat-Shevon and Kian Meng-Pei Jing still have a mathematical chance to qualify for the postponed Tokyo 2020 as they are ranked 11th and 13th respectively in the Race to Tokyo.

To qualify, they will have to overtake seventh-placed Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying or join them in the top eight.

A country can send a maximum two pairs if both are ranked inside the top eight.

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