PETALING JAYA: Troubled doubles shuttlers Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong will have to spend more time training and less time competing to shape up for the Olympics.
That is the solution the BA of Malaysia’s newly-formed High Performance Team (HPT) of Ng Chin Chai, Datuk James Selvaraj and Wong Ah Jit finally came up with after a three-hour meeting yesterday.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong, the world No. 7 pair, will forgo their chase for ranking points and focus on building up their physical strength and improving their game instead.
That means they will only compete in a maximum of five tournaments from now until the Olympics in July – a move which will certainly see their world rankings slide even further. The reasoning is that, as they are unlikely to finish in the top four in the rankings to be seeded for the Olympics, it is best they focus on mending the fissures in their game instead.
“Previously, our strategy was for Kien Keat-Boon Heong to be among the seeded pairs for the Olympics,” said Chin Chai.
“But that now seems virtually impossible as they are not performing well so we have had to change our plans.
“It doesn’t matter whether they are the fifth ranked pair in the world or No. 16 because only the top four get seeded while the others will be in a blind draw.
“Right now our priority is to improve the physical side of their game so that they will have a fighting chance for an Olympic medal. To do that, we’re drastically reducing the number of tournaments they will be competing in from now until July.
“We will increase training for speed, power and endurance according to the coaches’ recommendations and, hopefully, in six months, we’ll see a different Kien Keat-Boon Heong,” added Chin Chai.
The duo will only compete in the Thomas Cup qualifiers and Finals, the All-England in March, the India Open in April and the Indonesia Open in June.
James added that the pair were well aware of their situation and have promised to give their best in training.
“Both of them were very down-to-earth during the meeting. Kien Keat, who has received most of the criticism, is very concerned about his form,” said James.
“They accept the fact that they have really been poor and have vowed to give their all in training.
“There will be no special treatment for them. They understand that they will train with the other doubles players and need to show improvement by April or face the consequences.”
The once dominant Kien Keat-Boon Heong have suffered a drastic drop in form and confidence and have tumbled to No. 7 in the world rankings.
Their latest embarrassment came in the Malaysian Open where they bowed out tamely to South Korea’s No. 4 pair Kim Ki-jung-Kim Sa-rang in the second round.
The HPT also acknowledged that top women singles player Tee Jing Yi has a shot at earning a ticket to London and will be sent for more tournaments before the qualifying period ends.
The 21-year-old Jing Yi is currently ranked No. 60 in the world and needs to get into the top 32 by April.