KUALA LUMPUR: It seems like just yesterday but 15 years have gone by since doubles shuttler Hoon Thien How joined Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) as a junior.
But the good news is that this “old timer” hasn’t lost his drive nor passion for the game.
Together with his partner Tan Wee Kiong, the duo are all geared up to make a quick rebound at the German Open from Feb 25-March 2 in Mulheim and the All-England from March 4-9 in Birmingham.
Thien How-Wee Kiong did well at the tail-end of last year – putting up promising performances in several tournaments.
The World No. 8 did well to reach the China Open final; ended their title drought by winning the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold; and gave a heart-warming show before bowing out in the BWF World Super Series Finals in Kuala Lumpur in December.
Last month, though, they lost some ground after losing in the opening rounds of the Korean and Malaysian Opens.
The 28-year-old Thien How is the second most senior player in the doubles department after Koo Kien Keat but has somewhat done just enough to stay on top of his game – ahead of most of the youngsters in the team.
“I cannot believe that it has been that long … I guess I love the game too much,” said Thien How, who won the world junior title with Tan Boon Heong 10 years ago.
The bulky Thien How, who has struggled to manage his body weight in the past, said that he is strongly motivated to win major titles before calling it quits one day.
“I have mixed feelings when I look back at my career. There have been some good times … but I have not won any majors yet,” he said.
“I won the New Zealand Open once with my previous partner Chan Chong Ming (2007). With Wee Kiong, I have won the Macau Open and we almost pulled it off at the China Open … there will be more chances this year.”
Thien How hopes to emulate their compatriots Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah, who did well to end a four-year Super Series title drought at the Malaysian Open last month.
“It is a good start for the men’s doubles. Now, our target will be the All-England. It has been some time since Malaysian doubles last tasted success in this event. Hopefully, we will get it right this time,” said Thien How.
“The men’s doubles competition is quite open and I believe that Wee Kiong and I have as equal a chance as anyone else to win it.”
For the record, Kien Keat-Boon Heong last won the All-England title seven years ago.