IT’S all over for the country’s top men’s pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong in the World Championships – and also for their careers.
Yesterday, Kien Keat-Boon Heong blew their best chance to prolong their partnership when they went down 15-21, 16-21 in 42 minutes to Kim Ki-jung-Kim Sa-rang of South Korea in the quarter-finals at the Tianhe Gymnasium.
It was their fourth defeat to the Koreans in the last two years – and one which has the biggest repercussion.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) had issued them an ultimatum – reach the final or either be dropped or split up.
It looks like their seven-year plus partnership, which has gone through a dizzying roller-coaster ride, is set to come to a sad end.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong may have been the 2006 Asian Games champions, 2007 All-England winners and 2010 World Championships silver medallists. But, yesterday, they were made to look like novices.
“I just do not know what is it that when we play against the Koreans, they seem to have some kind of energy that enables them to rise above us each time we meet,” said Kien Keat.
The Koreans were indeed on fire as they seemed bent on making up for the shock defeat of their seniors – Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung to Taiwan’s Lee Sheng-mu-Tsai Chia-hsin – a day earlier.
“We are more experienced than them but they made us look like novices. We started well and were leading 11-9 in the opening game before they took control. From then on, everything seemed to work for them,” said Kien Keat.
Boon Heong felt the same, saying: “We came prepared ... but ended up not knowing how to brek their rhythm.”
Aware that their partnership and careers are at stake, Kien Keat said they would leave it to the BAM to decide on their fate.
“I have nothing much to say. I didn’t come here to be satisfied with a quarter-final finish. I came here with a target – to become men’s doubles champions,” said Kien Keat.
“It is best that I let BAM decide on this.
“As for my partnership with Boon Heong, I’ll discuss it with him. We’ve never thought about breaking up ...”
Boon Heong, however, was more open.
“I have not discussed it with Koo either. I’ll leave it to the BAM. If they feel that it would be better if I were teamed up with a younger player, so be it. All I know is that I’ve given my best,” said Boon Heong.
With their loss, Malaysia’s wait for a world champion in the men’s doubles since the tournament’s inception in 1977 continues.