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JOHOR BARU: Their trip down south on Saturday took a detour to Malacca when they made a stop at Machap to play exhibition matches at the launching of Malaysia Love Badminton Campaign by Deputy Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai.

The campaign is held in conjunction with the Machap by-election campaign.

Barisan Nasional's Lai Meng Chong is challenged by DAP's Liou Chen Kuang in the by-election on April 12.

And it was well past 10pm on Wednesday before top seeds and defending champions Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah reached Johor Baru.

But despite the tiring journey the pair were up early yesterday morning for their first workout at the badminton hall in Larkin for the Asian Badminton Championships (ABC).

Also making a stop at Machap were Malaysia's hottest badminton property Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, who are the second seeds in the ABC.

After winning the ABC title last year, Tan Fook-Wan Wah have reached only one final in an international meet the Hong Kong Open. And their first target in the ABC is to make the final.

Many say we are going downhill but we aim to prove them wrong. We are still improving, said Wan Wah yesterday.

In the latest world list, Tan Fook-Wan Wah are the highest ranked Malaysians at number seven while Kien Keat-Boon Heong are at number nine.

We have to be wary of all our opponents, more so if they are our teammates. We have to be focused on our game and it will be one match at a time for us, said Wan Wah.

Tan Fook added: It is hard to say what will happen in the ABC. Our first target is to at least reach the final but we have come well prepared to retain the title.

I would not want to comment on our teammates. It is hard to say because we know each other so well and train together. That makes it all the more difficult. We are the champions but there is certainly no pressure on us.

However, the Malaysian pairs have one thing in common to improve on their world ranking and ensure that they are seeded in the World Championships to be held in Bukit Jalil from Aug 13-19.

(source: The Star Online)

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