Indie pairs sign major deal ahead of Tokyo qualifiers

Going strong: Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie are ranked 11th in the Road to Tokyo standings.

PETALING JAYA: Independent mixed pairs Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie and Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing have received a timely boost ahead of the final stretch of the Olympics qualifiers, starting next month.

Both pairs can heave a huge sigh of relief after securing a one-year sponsorship deal with sporting equipment manufacturer Victor last week.

The major deal could not have come at a better time as Soon Huat-Shevon and Kian Meng-Pei Jing are still scrambling for funds to keep their Tokyo Olympics bids afloat after they were surprisingly axed from the national team two months ago.

The quartet can now look forward to salvaging their slim qualifying hopes in remaining three events – Indian Open (May 11-16), Malaysian Open (May 25-30) and Singapore Open (June 1-6).

Soon Huat-Shevon and Kian Meng-Pei Jing are ranked 11th and 13th respectively in the Road to Tokyo standings behind Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (seventh). A country can have two pairs if both of them are ranked in the top eight.

“It was a massive relief, ” said Shevon.

“The sponsorship is crucial not only in providing the war chest for the upcoming tournaments, but also an assurance beyond the Tokyo Olympics, at least until the end of this year.

“We can now keep on fighting. We’re really grateful to Victor for coming on board and backing us during this tough times.”

Shevon explained that the next three World Tour legs in Asia are set to be just as costly like in Europe last month.

That’s because these events impose a lengthier duration of quarantine for all the players as they needed to enter the tournament bubble at least six days in advance – which is longer compared to just two days in Europe.

According to tournament prospectus of the Indian Open, all players are required to arrive in the host city New Delhi latest by May 6.

As for the Malaysian Open, all participants must enter the bubble by May 18.

“It’s going to cost us a bomb. We have to pay US$180 a night (RM750) to stay in a double room at the official hotel. So you can imagine the overall cost of three bubbles until the Singapore Open in first week of June, ” lamented Shevon.

“So, we are still trying to raise some extra funds to cover all the expenses.”

Soon Huat-Shevon and Kian Meng-Pei Jing have joined the illustrious list of ambassadors for Victor that includes world No. 1 women’s singles shuttler Tai Tzu-ying Indonesia’s world No. 2 men’s pair Mohammad Ahsan-Hendra Setiawan and world No. 4 mixed pair Praveen Jordan-Melati Oktavianti.

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