KUALA LUMPUR: National doubles shuttler Lee Wan Wah is hoping to make a bigger impact in major tournaments with his partner, Choong Tan Fook, now that they have a full-time professional physical trainer to help them out.
The duo, who are now ranked second in the world, are the only pair from the national squad who will come under the charge of the National Sports Institute's (NSI) physical trainer, Sean Sturgess.
The others – Chan Chong Ming-Koo Kien Keat, Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Lin Woon Fui, Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif-Jack Koh, Chew Choon Eng-Gan Teik Chai, Tan Zhao Rong-Ong Soon Chiang and Hoon Thien How-Tan Boon Heong – will continue to undergo a physical training programme drawn up by national doubles chief coach Yap Kim Hock.
Kim Hock handed over the duties of working on Wan Wah's and Tan Fook's physically condition to Sturgess last week. He feared that the veterans might not be able to cope with his tough physical training regime and it might result in injuries.
Tan Fook had been in and out of tournaments because of a knee injury while Wan Wah also took a five-month break after a knee operation in 2002.
After going through the new programme under Sturgess for over a week, Wan Wah hoped to see good results in the China Open from Nov 9-14.
The China Open will be the first tournament for the duo after their quarter-finals exit in the Athens Olympics.
After the Olympics the national players came under a two-month suspension from international tournaments and did not get to compete in the recent Dutch Open and the just concluded Danish Open.
“After the disappointment in Athens, we made a request to our coach (Kim Hock) for a full-time physical trainer,” said Wan Wah.
“It is getting tougher for us to keep pace with the youngsters. We are older and our recovery rate is slower now.
“We still go through the skill work and match practices under Kim Hock. But in the afternoon, we will train under Sean.”
The duo will have four sessions of training a week over two hours each with Sean on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (morning and afternoon).
“It will be good to have someone to give us all the attention. The training under Sean is not easy either but there is a specific programme and target for us.
“The programme will help us to peak at major tournaments. The China Open will be the first tournament that we hope to do well. Next year, the two major tournaments that we hope to peak are the All-England (March) and World Championships (August).”
If Tan Fook-Wan Wah proved to be a success under Sturgess, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are expected to extend their good working relationships with National Sports Council (NSC) to engage a full-time trainer to handle all their national players.