Doubly hungry for gold

Malaysia's THINAAH Muralitharan being attended by medical for an injury while Pearly TAN look on during the Malaysian Masters 2022 semi-finals at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil, July 9, 2022. - GLENN GUAN/The Star

NATIONAL No. 1 pairs Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah are fired up to make amends for their semi-final exits in the Malaysian Masters by going for gold in the Commonwealth Games.

Doubles coaching director Rexy Mainaky said his charges won’t be down for too long and will bounce back as they look to bring glory to the country in the Games starting from July 28- Aug 8 in Birmingham.

Both Aaron-Wooi Yik and Pearly-Thinaah will be making their debuts in the quadrennial Games.

“I’m sure they are highly motivated to win gold in the Commonwealth Games. Both will be playing in the Games for the first time and I’m confident about their chances of getting gold medals,” said Rexy.

The Indonesian, though, is wary of the challenge that will be posed, especially to Aaron-Wooi Yik.

“Aaron-Wooi Yik’s main challengers will be India’s world No. 8 Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty and England’s world No. 16 Marcus Ellis-Chris Langridge.

“As for Pearly-Thinaah, perhaps their strongest threat will come from England’s world No. 14 Chloe Birch-Lauren Smith.”

Meanwhile, Rexy admitted that the same issues that have been plaguing Aaron-Wooi Yik caused their downfall again in the semi-finals where they came up short against Indonesia’s world No. 5 Fajar Alfian-Rian Ardianto.

“On the coaches’ side, we’ve already done our level best in preparing our players but they can’t depend on us alone. They need to play without pressure and have a ‘nothing to lose’ mentality.

“The Indonesians can do that but our pair tend to overthink too much. They want to win too badly and this is actually not good,” said a disappointed Rexy.

While Aaron-Wooi Yik’s title drought in Open tournaments may be a cause for concern, their success in multi-sports games such as capturing gold in the 2019 Philippines SEA Games and bronze in the Tokyo Olympics augur well for their chances at the Commonwealth Games.

Meanwhile, Rexy seemed more satisfied with Pearly-Thinaah’s performances in the Malaysian Masters.

“They had performed quite well. They beat two top pairs (Japan’s world No. 2 Yuki Fukushima-Sayaka Hirota and Indonesia’s Malaysian Open champions Apriyani Rahayu-Siti Fadia Ramadhanti) en route to the semi-finals.

“They couldn’t replicate those performances against China’s world No. 1 Chen Qingchen-Jia Yifan in the semi-final. The Chinese pair were more in control while Pearly-Thinaah were mentally unprepared, especially in the first game when their opponents raced to a big lead.

“In the second, they tried to put pressure on the Chinese but ended up losing narrowly. Pearly-Thinaah were meeting the Chinese pair for the first time, so hopefully they can learn and improve from this.”

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