By : K.M. Boopathy
THE Asian Badminton Championships (ABC), which begin in Johor Baru on Wednesday, may not be one of the more popular international events, but it is special for doubles player Tan Boon Heong.
Boon Heong, who partnered Hoon Thien How to reach last years final, wants to go one better this time with Koo Kien Keat.
|Tan Boon Heong (left) with partner Koo Kien Keat go into the Asian Badminton Championships, which begin in Johor Baru on Wednesday, as favourites for the title.|
A Kien Keat-Boon Heong victory is much anticipated in Johor Baru, as the duo have captured three of the four Super Series tournaments the All England, Malaysia and Swiss Opens they competed in this year.
But for Boon Heong, the Asian title has its own significance. It was at last years Asian Championships that Boon Heongs immense potential was noticed as he and Thien How defeated former world champions Candra Wijaya-Sigit Budiarto of Indonesia in the quarter-finals before losing to compatriots Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah in the final.
"This is the event where I reached my first international final and I will try to go one step better by winning it," said Boon Heong.
"I was not well known then but times have changed, and we need to work harder for the title. We have received a good draw but we are a little short on preparation and that will make it tough.
"However, I never go into any tournament worrying about my opponents or the shortcomings, and my intention is always to win."
Tan Fook-Wan Wah, ranked World No 6, are the only other top 10 pair competing in the Asian Championships and this has made Kien Keat-Boon Heong, ranked World No 9, the favourites to win the title.
Compatriots Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock, who are chasing a World Championships spot, are the only pair likely to provide some resistance to Kien Keat-Boon Heong in an expected quarter-final match.
They could meet scratch pair Lin Woon Fui-Gan Teik Chai in the last four before setting up a final showdown against Tan Fook-Wan Wah.
Should Kien Keat-Boon Heong win the Asian Championships their world ranking is likely to improve to sixth.
More importantly, winning the Asian Championships will serve as a morale booster ahead of the Singapore and Indonesia Opens in May.