KUALA LUMPUR: The one-year suspension imposed on two of South Korea’s top men’s doubles shuttlers – Lee Yong-dae and Kim Ki-jung – should be good news to all their rivals.
But not to Malaysian doubles shuttler Tan Wee Kiong.
Instead, he feels that Yong-dae and Ki-jung’s absence will be sorely missed on the international circuit and he hopes that an appeal by the Korean players will prompt the Badminton World Federation (BWF) to reverse the decision.
On Jan 28, the BWF stunned the badminton fraternity when they announced that Yong-dae and Ki-jung had been banned for missing doping tests.
Their suspension starts from Jan 23 to Jan 23 next year and it will see them missing out on all the major tournaments, including the Asian Games in their own back yard in Incheon in September.
The gifted Yong-dae won an Olympic Games mixed doubles gold medal in 2008 and is ranked 11th in the world with Yoo Yeon-seong. Ki-jung partners Kim Sa-rang and they are the world No. 5.
Their absence is likely to dilute the South Korean team’s strength for this year’s Thomas Cup Finals in New Delhi in May.
It is learnt that the Badminton Korea Association (KBA) had failed to inform the world body of the players’ whereabouts when they were asked to attend the doping test.
Both the players and BKA are appealing against the ban.
Wee Kiong said that all the men’s doubles players were sympathetic towards Yong-dae and Ki-jung.
“We are not jumping for joy over their misfortune. We cannot imagine not having them around. They are good players and worthy opponents. It is unfortunate that they’ve been banned. We heard that they are appealing against the ban. We hope it will be resolved soon,” said Wee Kiong, whose partner is Hoon Thien How.
“Their absence, however, will not affect the standard of competition in men’s doubles. For now, we will just be short of one good pair ... we hope this incident will not dampen their spirits.”
As for his own challenge in the circuit this year, Wee Kiong said that his target would be to regain the momentum with Thien How. The duo did quite well at the tail end of last year, dishing out promising performances.
They, however, suffered minors hiccups this year.
“Everyone has his own set of challenges. Right now, Thien How and I are quite down but we intend to get back on our feet. After the Chinese New Year celebrations, we intend to fine tune our preparations for two tournaments in Europe - the German Open and All-England,” said Wee Kiong, who went home to Johor to be with his family.
Wee Kiong-Tien How moved to the No. 8 spot in the world rankings after winning the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold and reaching the final of the China Open in November last year. But their morale took a huge beating when they lost in the opening rounds of both the Korean and Malaysian Opens recently.