By : K.M. Boopathy
CHOONG Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah have become so vital to Malaysia’s chances of clinching a first Olympics gold medal that they are being well protected in the build-up towards Beijing next year.
National doubles coach Rexy Mainaky has exempted Tan Fook, 31, and Wan Wah, 32, from one of the three daily training sessions which has been implemented to improve the players’ fitness and focus.
Tan Fook-Wan Wah have been exempted from physical training which is held daily between 6.30am and 8.30am to prevent their training routine from being too hectic and to also avoid the possibility of picking up injuries which could put an end to their chances of competing in Beijing.
The veteran pair, with two Olympics in their resume, is rich on experience and could be the ideal foil for Malaysia’s gold medal aspirants Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, the World No 2.
However, Wan Wah is not taking things for granted as qualification for the Olympics will only be finalised next May and he wants to focus on maintaining the pair’s performance in order to stake a strong claim for their third Olympics.
Only 16 pairs qualify for Beijing and one country is allowed a maximum of three pairs if it has three or more in the top four.
This means Kien Keat-Boon Heong and Tan Fook-Wan Wah, ranked World No 6, are in good positions to claim two places if they can maintain their position in the top eight.
"We are fortunate to be exempted from the early morning session as obviously our ages were taken into consideration. The younger players tend to gain more on the physical sessions while we still have the regular two sessions to maintain our condition," said Wan Wah.
"Our main aim is to remain in the top eight and get selected for the Olympics. We need to stay away from injuries and make sure we get our final shot at an Olympic medal.
"We have the experience to rely on and I appreciate the exemption in training as it could spare us from being not too stressed physically and avoid any injury.
"Our aim is always to go for a medal in the Olympics and we wouldn’t have continued playing if not for that goal. We want to make the best of our final opportunity."