Hon Jian-Haikal hope that Paris sparring experience will help boost their LA Olympics quest

No stopping them: Choong Hon Jian and Haikal Nazri will play in the Japan Open in August.No stopping them: Choong Hon Jian and Haikal Nazri will play in the Japan Open in August.

PETALING JAYA: Men’s doubles pair Choong Hon Jian-Haikal Nazri’s quick rise to the top 20 has earned them a spot as sparring partners for the Olympic Games squad.

They are one of the pairs listed to accompany the Paris-bound shuttlers to the training camp in Aire-sur-la Lys in Northern France next month.

The others are Goh Boon Sze-Raynor Beh, Liew Xun-Wong Vin Sean; Indonesian sparring partners Ade Yusuf Santoso-Gerardo Rizqullah, Alfian Firsada-Rian Swastedian; and women’s pair Teoh Mei Xing-Go Pei Kee.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Olympic qualifiers heading for the training on July 14 are men’s doubles world No. 5 Aaron Chia-Sooh Wooi Yik, women’s doubles Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah (No. 13), and mixed doubles Chen Tang Jie-Toh Ee Wei (No. 9).

Although the 10-day training camp is about a three-hour drive (about 230km) from the main venue at Porte de la Chapelle Arena, the aura of being involved in the Olympics preparations has left a positive impact for Hon Jian and Haikal.

Haikal said it would inspire them to qualify for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

“Hon Jian and I are targeting to qualify for the next Olympics and believe that we can feel the aura of the Paris Games by being involved in the training camp,” said Haikal.

“Although we won’t get the chance to travel to the badminton venue, being there is a small motivation as we start our own journey to try and progress in our careers to become a more quality pair.”

Despite having reached world No. 20, Haikal still believes his combination need play catch-up with the top pairs.

“We need to emulate the quality and consistency of the top pairs in order to do well in the bigger tournaments. Currently, the quality that we have is still not enough to challenge them,” said Haikal.

“We play well in patches but the top pairs rarely make mistakes and they can maintain their quality in every tournament.”

After the training camp, Hon Jian-Haikal are expected to focus on the Japan Open in Yokohama from Aug 20-25 to continue improving their world ranking.

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