Cheah and Ong back in the fray — 20 years after

PETALING JAYA: The competitive edge has got back to former men’s doubles star Cheah Soon Kit, who is reliving his partnership with Ong Beng Teong after 20 years.

They will feature together again in the KLRC New Zealand Open in Auckland. While the men’s singles competition started yesterday, Soon Kit-Beng Teong will be in action from today when they meet local pair Oliver Leydon Davis-Joe Wu for a place in the quarter-finals.

The top two seeds are Indonesians Lingga-Fernando Kurniawan and Wifqi Windarto-Afiat Yuris Wirawan.

Soon Kit-Beng Teong are unseeded and it will be of some interest to see whether they can make a winning return to competition.

When we were heroes: Cheah Soon Kit (left) and Ong Beng Teong celebrating their win over LiemSwie King-Bobby Ertanto in the semi-finals of the 1988 Thomas Cup at Stadium Negara. The pair wonthe second doubles match for a 3-2 win over Indonesia.

Soon Kit, who is the chief coach for Klang Valley-based badminton club KLRC Bhd, does not want to put any expectations on his first international competition since he quit the national team after the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

“We are in the top half (of the draw) with the young Indonesian pair of Lingga-Kurniawan and they are the favourites. But there is no aim for us other than to just exercise and get the feeling of playing in a tournament again,” said Soon Kit in a telephone interview from Auckland.

In Soon Kit’s national team career, he first paired off with Wong Tat Meng. And it was with Beng Teong that he showed his potential to make it big in badminton.

They hit it off at the 1988 Thomas Cup Finals in Kuala Lumpur as the second doubles pair and delivered the decisive point in the semi-final tie against Indonesia to put Malaysia through to the final for the first time in 12 years.

Soon Kit subsequently forged successful partnerships with Soo Beng Kiang and Yap Kim Hock.

Malaysians Sairul Amar Ayob and Lee Tsuen Seng, seeded first and third respectively, won their opening round singles matches easily yesterday.

Sairul beat Kiwi player Stanley Koo 21-7, 21-5 while Tsuen Seng overcame another local player, Joseph Ho, 21-3, 21-4.

The only Malaysian representatives in the mixed doubles, Chang Lik Sean-Teoh Hooi Lee, crashed out with a 7-21, 4-21 defeat by Bjorn Seguin-Gregory Kritteka of New Zealand.

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