PETALING JAYA: Doubles shuttler Koo Kien Keat has the blessings of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to leave the fold.
The 28-year-old Kien Keat had experienced poor form with partner Tan Boon Heong and submitted his resignation on Feb 21.
And on Friday, BAM deputy president Datuk Norza Zakaria, who was given the mandate to chair the decision, acknowledged that Kien Keat’s resignation had been accepted.
Despite coming under heavy criticism over the past few months, Kien Keat leaves the national team with no hard feelings and promises a return in the near future.
“I’m not leaving BAM because I have issues with anyone or because of any feeling of dissatisfaction with any party in the association,” said Kien Keat, who won the Asian Games gold medal in 2006, All-England in 2007, and made the World Championships final in 2010 with Boon Heong.
“It was a tough decision to make, but given that I am about to become a father, I had to put my family first. I’m aware that there has been a lot of criticism aimed at me and I don’t want my family to be affected by it … which is why I am leaving.
“But I will not be walking away from badminton just yet. Right now, I have a one-month break with my family but I will definitely be back soon.
“As for becoming a professional player, we will see. I do not have any partners right now though.
“It’s definitely sad to part ways with Boon Heong though, especially since we have been through so much together. But as an athlete, sometimes you just have to make the hard but correct decisions.
“I also wish that all the younger players will continue to work hard and strive to emulate (Lee) Chong Wei. They need to know that it can be easy to be a champion, but it’s hard trying to maintain that kind of level,” added Kien Keat.
Meanwhile Norza said that Kien Keat will be welcomed back with open arms by the BAM if he wishes to contribute in any form, such as mentoring the younger players.
“Kien Keat has contributed a lot to badminton in this country and although we are sad to let him go, we feel that this is the best way to handle the matter,” said Norza.
“We respect his decision because he did so on a good note and he will always be considered a legend in the badminton fraternity here.
“But if Kien Keat wants to make a comeback some day, through mentoring the next generation of players, we will gladly welcome him back with open arms.”
Kien Keat’s departure also means Malaysia will be short on quality talent in the doubles department, with only world No. 8 Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and world No. 14 Goh V Shem-Lim Khim Wah left to hold the fort.
With the Thomas Cup looming in May, Norza also said that it was imperative for the coaches to decide on Boon Heong’s new partner as soon as possible.
“We leave it to the coaches, but we’ll tell them not to waste too much time or allow Boon Heong to become idle,” said Norza.
“We are also open to suggestions on how to improve the current set-up. But in the meantime, we will just do the best with what we have at the Thomas Cup.”