SOUTH Korea's Jung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae have emerged as the world's hottest pair after their stunning wins in the recent All-England and Swiss Open.
And it's no surprise that the badminton fraternity are now saying that the Korean pair are the new favourites to nail the men's doubles gold at the Beijing Olympic Games.
National doubles coach Rexy Mainaky shares the same sentiment and tipped the Koreans as one of the favourites, together with Indonesia's world champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan, to win in Beijing.
"Jae Sung-Yong Dae have made tremendous improvement in their game of late and if they continue with their pace, they should make an impact, if not win, the gold medal in Beijing," said Rexy recently.
Jae Sung-Yong Dae have beaten most of the world's top pairs including Markis-Hendra in the Swiss Open final and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong of Malaysia in last month's Thomas Cup Qualifiers in Vietnam.
But Rexy added, though cautiously, that Malaysia's Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah will also have a chance in the Olympics if they are in form.
"The veteran pair (Tan Fook-Wan Wah) have proven that they still have the touch to compete against the best and proved it with two semi-final appearances in the All-England and Swiss Open." Rexy said.
Sadly, Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who turned heads last year with their sterling performances, are no longer the favourites to win Olympic gold.
In fact, their early round losses to lower ranked opponents in the All-England and Swiss Open have instead put their dream to compete in Beijing in jeopardy.
For the record, Kien Keat-Boon Heong have beaten Markis-Hendra in all four meetings to date while the head-to-head record with Jae Sung-Yong Dae stands at 1-1.
However, all their wins against the Korean and Indonesia pairs were when they were at their peak. — AJITPAL SINGH