by RIZAL HASHIM
THE Malay Mails 2006 Hottest Male Athletes, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, penned yet another remarkable script by bagging the mens Malaysian Open doubles title yesterday, a feat considered crucial by their coach-cummentor, Rexy Mainaky.
Rexys contention was simple the pair s 21-15, 21-18 victory achieved in 34 minutes over 2000 Olympic champs Tony Gunawan-Candra Wijaya at the packed KLBA Stadium was a clear indication that their Asian Games gold medal feat in Doha last month was not a flash in the pan.
Some 4,000 people saw it with their own eyes, so their win in Doha was not a fluke, said the former Indonesian ace of the pair, who immediately departed for KLIA to catch a flight to Seoul for the Korean Open starting tomorrow.
Kien Keat-Boon Heongs win was all the more remarkable because they had gone all the way to the title after having had to negotiate the qualifying rounds.
I was not exactly happy with their performance in the early rounds but today (yesterday), they proved that they can rise to the occasion,said Rexy.
The former England coach, however, added a word of caution.
He pleaded to the Press not to put his charges described as a pair that combines the defensive solidity of 1982 All-England champs Razif-Jalani Sidek and the attacking instincts of 1996 Olympic champs Rexy-Ricky Subagja on the pedestal.
Sure you can write good things about them, but dont praise them sky high.
Reserve all that when they win the Olympic gold,Rexy told reporters, in between calls from his wife Henny.
Rexy must have spoken from experience.
He had gone through the road before, before attaining sporting immortality with Ricky when they bagged the Olympic title in Atlanta 11 years ago.
Likewise Kien Keat-Boon Heong, who quenched the nations 36-year thirst for the gold in Doha, will have to pay for the price of fame.
They will get distractions, its how they deal with them thats important,said Rexy.
They have the right attitude, and I noticed they have not changed a bit even after winning the Asian Games.
I dont have any problems with them on the courts, but its their off-court activities that must be scrutinised.
I just want them to be fully focused.
Even while Rexy was entertaining questions from the Press corps just outside the dressing room at the KLBA Stadium shortly after the win, Kien Keat and Boon Heong were swarmed by a large group of fans asking for their autographs and having their pictures taken with them.
Rexy too was not short of admirers.
While one burger seller presented him with a free burger as a sign of gratitude, Rexy was stopped by a large mob intent on taking snapshots with the 39-year old father of two.
Happy to have bagged the win that was worth US,400 (RM52,560), Kien Keat said it was great to kick off the year by winning the first leg of the Super Series.
We met Tony-Candra in the final of the Japan Open last year and we knew we had to approach the game differently this t ime, said Kien Keat.
Candra refused to give full credit to the Malaysian duo, insisting his combination with Tony, who partnered Howard Bach to the mens doubles world title last year, was rusty because of the lack of preparation.
We are here to gain points to help our rankings, said Candra.