By : K.M. Boopathy
NATIONAL doubles coach Rexy Mainaky will only focus on Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah in preparation for the Beijing Olympics gold as the rest of the senior pairs have been bugged by inconsistency throughout the year.
Not that Rexy has totally left out the four other national pairs — Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock, Fairuzizuan Tazari-Zakry Latif, Chan Chong Ming-Hoon Thien How and Gan Teik Chai-Lin Woon Fui — from his plans but the bitter lesson learnt in the World Championships debacle a fortnight ago was a clear indication that Olympics are not about exposure.
None, except Chong Ming, has the experience of playing in the Olympics and Rexy wants proven players in Beijing rather than untested combinations.
Tan Fook-Wan Wah, the World No 6, reached the semi-finals in the World Championships while Kien Keat-Boon Heong, the World No 2, are good enough to challenge for gold in Beijing as they are on par with the top pairs.
"At the moment, I will only be focusing on Kien Keat-Boon Heong and Tan Fook-Wan Wah for the Beijing Olympics," said Rexy in a telephone interview from Hong Kong yesterday.
"I must rely on quality and experience and these two pairs are the picks now. I will send them for super series events regularly to stay in the top flight and also improve their world ranking.
"I’m not totally counting out the rest. A country is allowed a maximum of three pairs if it has three or more pairs in the top four ranking and we can consider another pair if that happens.
"This means the rest of the pairs will have to work very hard and prove that they deserve a place in the Olympics."
Rexy cannot be faulted for being cautious as Bin Shen-Soon Hock and Fairuz-Zakry were total letdowns in the World Championships.
Bin Shen-Soon Hock lost to Japanese pair Keita Masuda-Tadashi Ohtsuka in the first round while Fairuz-Zakry, who were offered the wildcard ahead of Chong Ming-Thien How , were thrashed by China’s Guo Zhendong-Xie Zhongbo in the second round.
The pairs have also been not performing in other tournaments over the last three months while Chong Ming-Thien How and Teik Chai-Woon Fui were also equally inconsistent.
Producing better results alone will not help their cause but they must start winning at least the grand prix tournaments to be considered for the Olympics.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong have won five titles – including the Doha Asian Games gold in December and the All England title in March — while Tan Fook-Wan Wah have more then 13 years of international experience.
Tan Fook-Wan Wah is the only pair in the current national squad to have played in the 2000 Sydney Olympics and the 2004 Athens Olympics. They reached the semi-finals in Sydney and were beaten in the bronze medal playoff by 2004 champions Ha Tae Kwon-Kim Dong Moon of South Korea.
Only injury could stop Tan Fook-Wan Wah from competing in their third Olympics and this means their compatriots must try to break into the top four to give themselves a genuine chance of qualifying for the Olympics.