It’s the virus that’s keeping Mei Kuan and Meng Yean on their toes


Lee Meng Yean (back) and Lee Meng Yean in action during the World Tour Finals in Bangkok.

PETALING JAYA: World No. 10 Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean are more concerned about Covid-19 than the draw as they get ready to leave for their first Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Mei Kuan-Meng Yean have a tough campaign in Group A after being drawn with top seeds Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota, Indonesia’s Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu and Great Britain’s Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith.

Only the top two pairs in every group advance to the quarter-finals. The group champions will be seeded and a fresh draw will be conducted to determine where the unseeded pairs will be placed.

Mei Kuan believes that taking all necessary precautions to minimise the risk of Covid-19 infection is just as crucial as getting themselves ready to face their opponents.

“It’s extremely important to take good care of ourselves, we really need to be alert at all times as we will be staying in the athletes village throughout the Games,” said Mei Kuan.

“Even the Japanese team have arranged for their players to stay in a hotel to avoid contact with other foreign competitors and that speaks volumes about the risk in the athletes’ Games village.

“In the event that we are unlucky and get Covid-19, then all the hard work we put in will go to waste!”

Although the opponents appears daunting on paper, Mei Kuan thinks otherwise and would deal with each pair accordingly.

“It’s quite a fair draw because on such a stage, you would expect to be grouped together with top-ranked opponents,” said Mei Kuan.

“Now that we know who our opponents are, we can study their game and plan how to approach them.”

They have never beaten world No. 1 Fukushima-Hirota in their past six meetings but do stand a chance against the other two.

Mei Kuan-Meng Yean have played world No. 6 Greysia-Apriyani four times but won their last two matches, with the recent being in the group stage of the World Tour Finals in Bangkok in January.

Against Smith-Birch, they have lost once in their only encounter, in a match that went to three games in the last eight of the Spain Masters last year.

Said Meng Yean: “We’re confident of beating Lauren-Birch this time. We have done several video analyses and we know how to overcome them.

“As for Polii-Apriyani, it’s always 50-50. But we’re anticipating a backlash from them after beating them twice.”

WOMEN’S DOUBLES DRAW

Group A: Sayaka Hirota-Yuki Fukushima (Jpn), Greysia Polii-Apriyani Rahayu (Ina), Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith (Eng), Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (Mas).

Group B: Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (Jpn), Doha Hany-Hadia Hosny (Egy), Rachel Honderich-Kristen Tsai (Can), Cheryl Seinen-Selena Piek (Ned).

Group C: Lee So-hee-Shin Seung-chan (Kor), Du Yue-Li Yinhui (Chn), Maiken Fruergaard-Sara Thygesen (Den), Gronya Somerville-Setyana Mapasa (Aus).

Group D: Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan (Chn), Kim So-yeong-Kong Hee-yong (Kor), Jongkolphan Kititharakul-Rawinda Prajongjai (Tha), Gabriela Stoeva-Stephanie Stoeva (Bul).

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