KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia unleashed another young talent onto the world stage – Gideon Markus Fernaldi but Malaysia’s old-timers Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong just can’t seem to get it right.
On Sunday, fourth seeds Kien Keat-Boon Heong went down 16-21, 18-21 in just 33 minutes to qualifiers Gideon-Markis Kido in the men’s doubles final of the French Open in Paris and their wait for a Super Series title continues.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong last won a Super Series title at the Malaysian Open in 2010 – three years and nine months ago, to be exact.
It was 22-year-old Gideon’s first appearance in a Super Series final. He was teamed up with former world champion Markis this year and the duo have been showing great improvements in every tournament.
Another Indonesian player Mohd Ahsan, who was given the chance to team up with former world champion Hendra Setiawan a year ago, has already proven himself. He nailed the world title with Hendra in Guangzhou in August – at the age of 26.
As for Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who have been playing as a pair for seven and a half years, it was good to see them reaching their first final this year but their limp performance against the Indonesians showed that their combination has reached a plateau.
The only bright spark for Malaysia in the French Open was the performance of Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong.
The duo, who had been under fire for failure to live up to their status as the second pair in the country, finally showed some positive signs when they ended the gallant run of reigning Denmark Open champions Lee Yong-dae-Yoo Yeon-seong of South Korea in the quarter-finals before going down to Kien Keat-Boon Heong.
But whether Thien How-Wee Kiong can be the country’s reliable top pair in future remains a question mark. They have not even reached the final of a Super Series since they started playing together last year.
While other countries are exposing their younger players and giving their back-up players a break at high-level tournaments, Malaysia’s move to hold back their back-up players from competing in international tournaments does not augur well.
Currently, the coaches have under their wing six new pairs - Goh V Shem-Teo Kok Siang, Teo Ee Yi-Chooi Kah Ming, Ow Yao Han-Lim Khim Wah, Yew Hong Kheng-Tan Yip Jiun, Nelson Heg Wei Keat-Tan Wee Gieen and Tai An Khang-Low Juan Shen. They are now preparing for the Malaysia International Challenge in Kuching from Nov 12-17.
Malaysia’s back-up team certainly do not lack the depth. After all, they have six world junior champions - Kok Siang, Ee Yi, Kah Ming, Yao Han, Hong Kheng and Wei Keat in their midst.
Their progress from juniors to seniors has been slow and it all now depends on how the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) plan to instil in them the courage, self-belief and confidence to make a name for themselves in the senior ranks – just like how Gideon did in Paris.