Different status but Olympic silver medal winner Wee Kiong continues to inspire youngsters


Eager for action: Tan Wee Kiong (right) and Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub will feature in the Malaysian Masters starting tomorrow at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil.

PETALING JAYA: Doubles’ shuttler Tan Wee Kiong’s fortunes and partner may have changed since he won a surprise silver medal at the Rio Olympic Games eight years ago but his love for the sport has not diminished at all.

In fact, the 34-year-old Wee Kiong is still giving it a shot as a professional player and hoping that he could inspire the younger generation of players along the way.

Wee Kiong, who came within a whisker from ending the country’s wait for a gold before settling for silver with Goh V Shem at the 2016 Olympics, is now playing with 30-year-old Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayub.

The duo will feature in the Malaysian Masters starting tomorrow at Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil but since playing together at the Taiwan Open last year, they have not really ruffled the feathers in a tight men’s doubles competition.

Always modest despite his huge accomplishments over the years, Wee Kiong is just fine to keep a low profile.

“I’m just finding ways to enjoy badminton and keep pushing,” said Wee Kiong.

“I still get inspiration from my first Olympics outing with V Shem in Rio. There were just so many good memories, staying at the Games Village, meeting other sports stars, and of course, playing in the Olympics final.”

He, however, admits that the doubles scene is totally different from the time when he played with V Shem from 2014-2021 and Tan Kian Meng from 2021-2023.

Although he chose world No. 1 Liang Weikeng-Wang Chang of China, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik of Malaysia and Japan’s Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi as the top three pairs to watch out for ahead of the Paris Olympic Games, Wee Kiong knows several others are equally good.

“The game has evolved and the race in the doubles is very open now,” he said.

“I believe our Malaysian pair can achieve something wonderful in Paris but China, Japan, India, South Korea and Indonesian pairs are quite strong too.

India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty signalled their intent ahead of the Paris Games by winning at the Thailand Open in Bangkok yesterday.

“The Indian pair are in a different zone since winning the Thomas Cup Finals (2022), they are now big boys in the world of badminton.”

While still trying to be relevant at the international stage, Wee Kiong is also busy grooming young players at his Tan Wee Kiong Badminton Academy in Kuala Lumpur. He has a team, including his younger brother Tan Wee Tat, who organises tournaments and conducts training to fulfil their vision to unearth new talents for the country.

“I’m still involved full-time in badminton. When I’m not playing in international tournaments, I run my badminton academy in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya. I’m trying to learn and gain some knowledge in sports business,” added the father of two children.

In the Malaysian Masters, world No. 71 Wee Kiong-Azryn will face Choong Hon Jian-Mohd Haikal Nazri in the first round while Wee Kiong’s former partner V Shem, who is now playing with Boon Xin Yuan, will face Beh Chun Meng-Goh Boon Zhe in the first round of the qualifying tournament.

Former world champions Aaron-Wooi Yik are the top seeds, and hopes are on them to win the home title.

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