PETALING JAYA: The past three weeks have been literally “touch and go” for newly-turned independent mixed doubles pair Tan Kian Meng and Lai Pei Jing.
They almost did not get to go to the ongoing Swiss Open which is an Olympics qualifying event but touch wood, as they finally raised enough funds to make the trip plus participation in the All-England as well.
The 26-year-old Kian Meng took to his social media account to recount how he and Pei Jing nearly abandoned their plan to compete in the Swiss Open and All-England (March 17-21) due to insufficient funding.
Despite time not being on their side, the world No. 13 made their very best efforts to raise the RM60,000 needed for their three-week stint in Europe. The sponsorship-seeking process was made complicated due to the Chinese New Year break.
In the end, their perseverance paid off when several sponsors including some well-wishers finally came on board to back them – several days prior to their departure last Saturday.
Kian Meng-Pei Jing also managed to secure apparel and equipment sponsorships from Yonex, who are also backing Rio Olympics silver medallists Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong.
“The very first tournament as independent players, a fresh start and new beginning, ” wrote Kian Meng on his Instagram.
“We were almost resigned to not being able to participate in this tournament. Having visited so many places, stumbling and fumbling for the last two weeks, the struggles eventually came to a temporal end.”
Kian Meng has vowed to repay the sponsors’ faith in him and Pei Jing by chalking up some decent results in these two tournaments.
After winning their opening match against Indonesia’s world No. 33 Adnan Maulana-Mychelle Bandaso 21-13,21-12, Kian Meng and partner easily breezed past Jones Ralfy Jansen-Kilasu Ostermeyer of Germany 21-14,21-17 to reach the quarter-finals of the Swiss Open on Wednesday.
“Shoutout to our sponsors and all the kind and generous individuals who wish to remain anonymous, many thanks for your help and support, ” he said.
“From now on, I will fully focus on the tournament. We truly hope that we can repay your support with our utmost efforts and more brilliant results!”
Currently ranked 13th in the Race to Tokyo standings, Kian Meng-Pei Jing still stand a mathematical chance to secure their Olympics debut in July.
They need to break into the top eight or otherwise finish ahead of compatriots – Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (seventh) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (11th) – for the right to represent the country.
A victory in Basel this week would be crucial to their bid.