By : K.M. Boopathy
THE age-old adage ‘You can bring a horse to the water but you can’t force it to drink,’ aptly describes the national men’s doubles players who have proved yet again that their gutless showing in the World Championships had nothing to do with preparations but their lack of hunger to succeed in a major event.
How else can one digest the way Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong’s meek surrender in the quarter-finals to a Japanese pair who had have never achieved anything till beating Malaysia’s best hope.
Malaysia’s chance of winning its first world crown in 30 years effectively ended the moment Kien Keat-Boon Heong lost to Shuichi Sakamoto-Shintaro Ikeda in Friday’s quarter-finals, although veterans Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah produced a super human effort to beat China’s world champions Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun to reach the semi-finals.
Shuichi-Shintaro have never won an international title in their career while Kien Keat-Boon Heong have won five titles in just nine months as a pair.
Tan Fook, 31, and Wan Wah, 32, did their part by eliminating Malaysia’s main obstacle to clear the way for Kien Keat-Boon Heong to win the crown.
It must have been agonising for Kien Keat, 22, and Boon Heong, 20, to sit by and watch Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan, whom the Malaysians have beaten in all three of their previous meetings, win the title.
But they have no one else to blame but themselves.
Stardom seems to have put Kien Keat under a spell, while Rexy’s latest fear that the doubles players perform well only in the tournaments offering prize money, is slowly clouding Boon Heong and several other young players’ vision.
In a professional era, of course the players should be earning well but if they put money above all, then it becomes almost impossible to win the Olympics or World Championships where no prize money is on offer.
Malaysia’s best chance to win an Olympic gold still lies with the men’s doubles but it is only possible if they focus on winning and nothing else.
Indonesia and South Korea are classic examples of why they have been so successful in the World Championships and Olympics.
The attitude to win must be in-grained and this is the reason why Indonesia have won seven world titles and two Olympic gold in men’s doubles, while the Koreans have secured three in the World Championships and two in the Olympics.
‘Gold-or-nothing’ has been the single-minded approach of the Indonesians and Koreans, and the Malaysians must approach the Olympics with the same attitude, if not better. They have to psyche themselves into thinking they can win.