PETALING JAYA: Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong have been denied a lucrative payday – no thanks to poor planning by the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
The duo were ranked eighth in the Super Series men’s doubles standings after the China Open a fortnight ago but were not entered for the last leg at the Hong Kong Open, which ended on Sunday.
As a result, they were pipped to a Super Series Finals berth at the Cheras Badminton Stadium (KLBA) from Dec 11-15.
Only the top eight are eligible to compete in the US$500,000 (RM1.61mil) and each country is only allowed to have a maximum of two pairs.
South Korea’s Kim Ki-jung-Kim Sa-rang jumped three places from ninth to sixth after making the final in Hong Kong to push Thien How-Wee Kiong to ninth spot.
The only way for Thien How-Wee Kiong to sneak into the Finals is for fourth-placed Ko Sung-hyun-Lee Yong-dae of South Korea to withdraw or a qualified pair to pull out due to injuries. Sung-hyun-Yong-dae are no longer playing as a pair.
Missing the Finals is a double blow to BAM as well as in-form Thien How-Wee Kiong. The duo were not included in the national team for next month’s Myanmar SEA Games and were told by the BAM to focus on qualifying for the Finals.
Thien How and Wee Keiong were regarded as potential medallists but with them out of the Games, Malaysia are banking on inexperienced Lim Khim Wah-Ow Yao Han and Goh V Shem-Teo Kok Siang for glory.
Meanwhile in the men’s singles, China’s Hu Yun, who made the China Open second round, was the lucky benefactor from Chen Long’s decision to withdraw from the Hong Kong Open.
Hu Yun finished eighth in the standings while Chen Long, the world No. 2, dropped three places to 11th.
This means world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei will be in the driving seat to win his fourth Finals title, He was the champion from 2008-2010.
Out of the eight qualifiers, only Japan’s Kenichi Tago has beaten the Malaysian this year.
In the women’s singles, world No. 5 Wang Yihan’s Hong Kong Open triumph was not enough to earn her a spot in the Finals as she only moved up to eighth.
Wang Shixian finished first while Olympic champion Li Xuerui grabbed fifth spot to be China’s representatives.
Nine-placed Taiwanese Tai Tzu Ying, who won the Malaysian Open in January, will complete the line-up following the two-player per country ruling.