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KUALA LUMPUR: Many have ruled out Malaysia’s chances of glory in the men’s doubles event at the World Championships, which will be held in Guangzhou from Aug 5-11.
But former ace Lee Wan Wah begs to differ.
The Malaysian men’s doubles pairs are not really red-hot favourites but they have, he said, come close four times in the last 26 years of the world meet.
And that’s why he feels there is a chance, however slim, that one of these four pairs – Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong, Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem and Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Mohd Zakry Abdul Latif – could end Malaysia’s wait for the elusive world title at the 20th edition in Guangzhou.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong are one of the four Malaysian pairs to have reached the final in the world meet. They made it to the final in 2010 but let victory slip through their hands when Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China came from behind to seal the title in Paris.
The other men’s doubles pairs who had made the final included the Sidek brothers of Razif-Jalani (1987), Cheah Soon Kit-Soo Beng Kiang (1997) and Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock (1993).
Having briefly reigned as world No. 1 with Choong Tan Fook in 2004, Wan Wah (pix inset) knows the score and has urged the Malaysian shuttlers – especially Kien Keat-Boon Heong – to rise to the occasion.
“I won’t write off their chances completely. We have a fair chance ... though not a great one. I’m saying this because the men’s doubles field is quite open,” said Wan Wah.
“Cai Yun-Hai Feng (four-time world champion) have not fared well this year – especially in the Sudirman Cup – but we do not know what they have up their sleeves. China’s two back-up pairs – Liu Xiaolong-Qiu Zihan and Hong Wei-Shen Ye – are the most improved but this is their world meet.
“There are other pairs but none really have been very consistent. All have had their highs and lows.“I know that Koo-Tan have not been great, either. I wouldn’t say their game has dropped but rather the others have caught up. It all depends on Koo-Tan on the day ... whether they can rise to the occasion.”
Wan Wah believes that one of the country’s most improved pairs – Khim Wah-V Shem, who beat Kien Keat-Boon Heong en route to winning the Malaysian Open Grand Prix Gold in May this year – could pull off a major surprise.
“This pair should use the World Championships to prove themselves. They have the desire and have done well but my concern is their inconsistency.
“Hopefully, they’ll do well in their maiden outing,” said Wan Wah, whose best effort in the world meet was a semi-final finish with Choong Tan Fook in Seville in 2001.
Wan Wah hopes that the national shuttlers will make good use of their centralised training in Hong Kong. The shuttlers have been there since July 27 and will head for Guangzhou on Saturday.
“This is a period for the players to polish their game and psyche themselves up to peak at the world meet.
“I hope they will make good use of the time. Hopefully, all their sacrifices will bear fruit in Guangzhou,” said Wan Wah.