KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s second doubles pair Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong will not go for the Myanmar SEA Games after all.
A good performance in the French Open last week has opened up the possibility of Thien How-Wee Kiong sneaking into the lucrative US$500,000 (RM1.58mil) BWF World Super Series Finals from Dec 11-15 as one of the eight qualifiers.
All they have to do is go as far as possible in the China Open in Shanghai from Nov 12-17 to seal their tickets.
Thien How said that their names had been dropped from the SEA Games squad. The badminton competition during the SEA Games is from Dec 9-14 – thus clashing with the Super Series Finals in Kuala Lumpur.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) have now named new combinations – Goh V Shem-Teo Kok Siang and Lim Khim Wah-Ow Yao Han – to spearhead the nation’s challenge in the biennial Games.
“Wee Kiong and I have a chance to qualify for our first Super Series Finals and we are going to go for broke in the China Open. Our coaches have decided to drop us from the SEA Games squad so that we can focus on making the cut for the Finals,” said Thien Hoon.
Thanks to their breakthrough win over reigning Denmark Open champions Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong of South Korea en route to reaching the semi-finals of the French Open last week, the duo have moved up two rungs to ninth position in the Super Series ranking.
Only the top eight after the 12 legs will make the cut. The other Malaysian pair in the running for the Finals are French Open runners-up Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, who are in seventh spot.
A country can have a maximum of two pairs if both are ranked within the top eight after the 12-leg Super Series. After the China Open, the final leg will take place in Hong Kong from Nov 19-24.
Buoyed by their good run in France, a confident Thien How-Wee Kiong have promised to go as far as possible in the China Open, although they have been drawn against second seeds Mathias Boe-Cartsen Mogensen of Denmark in the first round.
If they win, they will face South Koreans Ko Sung-hyun-Shin Baek-cheol. If they can get into the last eight, they will likely set up a rematch against Kien Keat-Boon Heong.
Thien How-Wee Kiong lost to their more illustrious team-mates in the semi-finals of the French Open.
“The draw is tough but we have nothing to lose. All our opponents are more established than us and we’ll try to pull the rug from under them. We cannot let this chance (of qualifying for the Super Series Finals) slip through our fingers,” he said.
“We are not competing in the Hong Kong Open. So, the China Open is our last tournament to strengthen our claim for a ticket to the Finals.”
So far, only world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei is assured of a place in the Finals.
The qualification of top mixed doubles pair Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying also depends on their back-to-back outings in China and Hong Kong.