In old but good hands

PETALING JAYA: It’s confirmed that mixed doubles shuttler Chan Peng Soon (pic) will be the oldest player to lead Malaysia’s eight-member team for the Tokyo Olympic Games.

World No. 7 and Rio Olympic Games silver medallists Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying will be joined by Lee Zii Jia (men’s singles), Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (men’s doubles), Soniia Cheah (women’s singles) and Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean for the Tokyo Olympics after the cancellation of the last Olympics qualifying tournament in Singapore.

Yesterday, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed that the Singapore Open has been called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Singapore Open was the third qualifiers to fall victim to the virus after the cancellation of the India Open (May 11-16) and postponement of the Malaysian Open (May 25-30).

Without any more qualifiers, the list is unlikely to change.

The 33-year-old Peng Soon is just happy to make his third trip to the Olympics with Liu Ying.

“I will not only be the oldest player in the Malaysian team to the Olympics but I will be the oldest player in the mixed team qualifiers. That makes me feel old indeed, ” said Peng Soon in jest.

The other mixed doubles qualifiers are China’s Zheng Siwei-Huang Yaqiong, Wang Yilyu-Huang Dongping; Dechapol Puavaranukroh-Sapsiree Taerattanachai (Tha); Praveen Jordan-Melati Daeva, Hafiz Faizal-Gloria Emanuelle (Ina); Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino (Jpn); Seo Seung-jae-Chae Yu-jung (Kor); Marcus Ellis-Lauren Smith (Eng); Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet (Hkg); Thom Gicquel-Delphine Delrue (Fra); Robin Tabeling-Selena Piek (Ned); Mark Lamsfuss-Isabel Herttrich (Ger); Mathias Christiansen-Alexandra Boje (Den) and three continent representatives - Joshua Hurlburt-Yu-Josephine Wu (Can), Adham Hatem-Doha Hany (Egy) and Simon Leung-Gronya Somerville (Aus).

“It’s good to see Malaysia represented in every event for the Olympics, it’s a first Games for all of them.

“Of course, we tried to have two pairs in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles but all these cancellation did not help.

“In the previous Olympics, Lee Chong Wei used to be the oldest or the most experienced, and now, it’s Liu Ying and I.”

Peng Soon admitted that being old hands, it was a disadvantage when it came to keeping up with the younger rivals but they plan to bank on their experience to go one step better and win gold.

“This is surely a different Olympics for everyone. The Covid-19 situation has made it difficult for every player, every country and the organisers. It’s even harder for us but we will fight for the gold, ” added Peng Soon.

For the record, Malaysia have yet to win a gold medal through badminton in the Olympics.

In Rio 2016, besides Peng Soon-Liu Ying, Malaysia also won silvers through Chong Wei and Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles), making it the best outing so far.

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