KUALA LUMPUR: Former national doubles star Chan Chong Ming has made a quick return from retirement to renew a partnership with Chew Choon Eng.
The duo, who were ranked as the world's number one pair briefly in 2002, will feature in the Malaysian Open, which will be held from Jan 15-20 at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil, under the sponsorship of sports equipment firm Victor.
Two months ago, Chong Ming ended a 14-year journey with the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM), saying that his time was up in playing competitive international badminton. He now has had a change of heart and has decided to grab the chance to be reunited with his former partner.
“I missed playing badminton at the competitive level. My former partner and good friend, Choon Eng, threw the idea of getting back together,” said the 27-year-old Chong Ming.
“And I jumped at it immediately. Yes, we still think that we can compliment each other well and challenge the other pairs on the world circuit.”
The Chong Ming-Choon Eng partnership was split after the 2004 Athens Olympics. Chong Ming went on to pair up with Koo Kien Keat and Hoon Thien How before he left the BAM. And Choon Eng, who did not have a regular partner, eventually left the national team in 2005.
Chong Ming, who will tie the knot with his long-time girlfriend Janice Lee on Sunday, said that he had good memories of his partnership with Choon Eng between 2000 and 2004.
“2002 was our best year. We won the Japan Open and a gold medal in the Manchester Commonwealth Games. We were the runners-up in the China and Denmark Opens. We are giving ourselves another shot at bringing back some of the glory days,” he said.
Chong Ming-Choon Eng thanked Victor for reviving their partnership. Yesterday, they were given the green light by the BAM to spar with the national players under the charge of Rexy Mainaky.
Said Choon Eng: “They (Victor) will provide the funds for us to compete in international tournaments. What's more important is that they believe in us and we appreciate that.”
In the Malaysian Open, Chong Ming-Choon Eng will have to beat Indonesians Bona Septano-Ahsan Mohd of Indonesia in the qualifying tournament to get a place in the main draw.
“Our aim is to get among the top 16 in the world by end of this year. But we will not be rushing into things,” added Choon Eng.