PETALING JAYA: Malaysia have taken a double blow going into the new year – Loh Choon How and Phoon Eyin, both former world champions, have decided to call it a day.
Choon How and Phoon Eyin have won SEA Games gold medals and were world champions in their disciplines at one point of their careers.
The 26-year-old Choon How is bowing out on a high after bagging two gold medals in taijiquan and taijijian (taiji sword) at the Philippines SEA Games last month. He was subsequently crowned the Male Olympian of the Year.
The 23-year-old Phoon Eyin, best remembered for winning Malaysia’s 1000th SEA Games gold medal in Myanmar in 2013, has left the national team to focus on her studies.
Phoon Eyin, who did not take part in the SEA Games, is not going to defend her jianshu (sword) and qiangshu (spear) titles at the Taolu World Cup in Japan this year.
Wushu Federation of Malaysia president Datuk Chong Kim Fatt confirmed that the team will start 2020 without the duo.
“Choon How decided to give up due to his back and knee injuries. He actually wanted to quit earlier last year but we managed to persuade him to give the Philippines SEA Games a shot. He was outstanding at the Games and delivered the gold medals although we went there without any expectations.
“He does not want to continue any more as an athlete but he is welcome to contribute as a coach.
“We will try to keep him in the national set-up as a coach.
“I will recommend to National Sports Council (NSC) that he be made the coach of the back-up squad.
“It’s not just Choon How but we also lost Phoon Eyin. I am sad as we have lost two experienced exponents and we do not have anyone who can take over for the time being.
“The juniors are still nowhere the standards required to compete for medals at the world championships, so it’s going to take some time to fill the gap, ” he said.