PETALING JAYA: The last one-year has been a roller coaster ride for Yap Kim Hock as the national chief coach of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
He's had his ups – Lee Chong Wei and the men's pair of Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and women's player Wong Mew Choo did well.
He's had his downs – Chong Wei turned against him after failure at the World Championships, and players are moving away to professional clubs.
This year, it could be the highest of accolades or – the axe. And it will all hinge on the Beijing Olympic Games in August. A gold and he would be hailed as hero. If Malaysia fail to deliver a medal, his head would be on the chopping block.
Kim Hock, however, is taking it all in his stride.
His only fear is of outside interferences that he believes can disrupt the training, morale and unity of the players and coaches.
“I have a solid team right now. Great focus has been given on the players gearing up for the Olympic Games. Everything is going smoothly,” said Kim Hock.
“But outside factors could disrupt all this. If something goes wrong during training, I can fix it. But I have no control over outside influence.”
Asked what he meant by “external factors,” Kim Hock chose not to delve into it and said: “I would not know until it hits me right on the face. This is my only fear.”
Last year was Kim Hock's best since he took charge as chief coach in 2004. Malaysia won the most number of international titles in a single year – especially through Chong Wei and Kien Keat-Boon Heong.
Even the women have stepped up and made Kim Hock proud. Mew Choo and Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty in the singles and doubles events respectively have put up exceptional performances.
Kim Hock, in fact, was the man behind the hiring of Indonesian Rexy Mainaky and China's Li Mao as the doubles and singles coaches.
But there have been troubles.
After promising to produce a world and Olympic champion, Li Mao walked out, leaving Chong Wei in a lurch in the early part of the year.
Then came the spat, with Chong Wei taking a swipe at Kim Hock – a rare occurrence of a player publicly criticising a coach – after the former lost tamely at the World Championships.
In fact, their relationship is strictly professional right now.
There was also concern over the increasing number of BAM players migrating to professional clubs.
To top it all, there have been no world champions or a Thomas Cup winning team under his helm. True, Malaysia have not produced very many of those before Kim Hock but those are the earmarks of success.
Despite it all – Kim Hock stays brave like a true champion.
“I am glad that I was mentally strong to handle all this. I was a fighter as a player. This probably helps me in my job as chief coach,” said Kim Hock.
“I take it all as part and parcel of my job.
“This year, there are two major tournaments – the Olympics and Thomas Cup Finals. And I would rather be focused on getting the BAM players to get it right in these tournaments.”
So far, Kim Hock has survived as the longest serving chief coach under the BAM banner.
But after the Olympics?
It could be a medal around a player's neck. Or it could just be Kim Hock's neck.