On Armada to reach Paris

First things first: (from left) Goh Jin Wei, Soong Joo Ven, and Cheam June Wei will compete in more tournaments to improve their world rankings and better their chances of qualifying for the 2024 Olympics.

PETALING JAYA: Independent singles players Cheam June Wei, Soong Joo Ven and Goh Jin Wei will not attend the joint training sessions with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) as their priority is the Olympic Games qualifying period which starts next year.

Earlier, coach Nova Armada was keen for his charges to join the sessions on Wednesdays.

Yesterday though, he said the main objective now was for his charges to compete in more tournaments in order to improve their world rankings to give them a genuine chance of fighting for spots at the 2024 Paris Olympics.

June Wei, ranked No. 53, and women’s singles Jin Wei (No. 39) are currently playing in the Welsh International Challenge in Cardiff while Joo Ven, ranked No. 50, was involved in the Bahrain International in Manama where he lost 21-13, 21-14 in the first round to Kartikey Kumar of India on Wednesday.

The trio will next play in the Bangladesh International Challenge in Dhaka next week to improve their world ranking to the top 32 so that they are eligible to play in the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) super 700 to super 1000 events which attract the world’s leading players.

“Initially, we thought of attending the joint training sessions but we need to make adjustments to our programme where the three players need to play in more tournaments to improve their world ranking,” said Nova.

“Once they are in the top 32, they are eligible to play in the super 1000 like the Malaysia and Indonesia Opens, and this is important for them in order to fight for the Olympic spots.

“Their rankings continues to rise so that they don’t have to play in the international challenge tournaments and can focus fully on the BWF world tour where they can play in the super 500 to super 1000 events.

“As such, we will be involved in a lot of tournaments from January and the time in between will be utilised for their training.

“This will make it difficult for us to commit to the joint training sessions for now.

“The Olympics qualifying starts on May 1 next year and June Wei, Joo Ven and Jin Wei should be in the top 32 by then and also start getting quality results to realise their Olympic dreams.”

The trio will not be eligible to play in the 2023 curtain raiser, the Malaysian Open, at the Axiata Arena from Jan 10-15 as it is a super 1000 event where only the top 32 players receive direct entry.

So far, the doubles department has received some encouragement as Rosman Razak, who will take charge of the independent pairs on Jan 1, is keen to have joint sessions with the BAM pairs.

The joint sessions are unable to start earlier as Rosman wants to honour his contract as the head coach of the Philippines team for another three weeks before returning to Malaysia.

The independent pairs are currently under outgoing coach Chin Eei Hui and four of them – men’s doubles Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, women’s doubles Vivian Hoo-Lim Chiew Sien and mixed pairs Tan Kian Meng-Lai Pei Jing and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie – are preparing for the World Tour Finals in Bangkok from Dec 7-11.

The BAM have set the criteria that independent singles players who are in the top 50 and doubles pairs in the top 30 will be invited for the joint sessions.

Meanwhile, another independent player Liew Daren has stated that he will join the joint training sessions but has not decided on when he will officially start.

Daren, ranked world No. 33, has been a sparring partner with Lee Zii Jia since the world No. 2 left the BAM to become an independent shuttler early this year.

Zii Jia, however, has yet to give any affirmative answer in joining the matchplay sessions with BAM shuttlers.

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