KUALA LUMPUR: One of the top four seeded pairs have always gone on to contest the Olympic final in the men's doubles competition and Koo Kien Keat-Boon Heong will be out to beat the odds in Beijing next month.
The duo will not be seeded for their first outing in the Olympics. Veterans Lee Wan Wah-Choong Tan Fook look set to be named as the fourth seeds behind Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung of South Korea, Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun of China and Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia.
The draw for the badminton competition will be made on Aug 4. For Kien Keat, whose partnership with Boon Heong is now ranked fifth in the world, the unseeded status suits them fine.
“It is beyond our control now and what we can do is to focus on our own game. It was the same situation when we won the Asian Games and All-England titles,” said Kien Keat, who has resumed training after recovering from injuries suffered in a freak accident.
“We beat the top ranked pairs. We are in with a chance if we produce our best form. The pressure will be more on them because they are the seeded ones.”
Kien Keat took almost three weeks to recover from cuts he suffered on his right hand and leg after the glass panel he was leaning on gave way.
“I am thankful that my place in the Olympic is still intact. I hope to bring back a medal. It will be great if we can make it to the final.”
A place in the final guarantees at least silver but the losing semi-finalists will have to fight for the bronze in a playoff.
Since badminton made its Olympic debut in 1992, the winners have all come from the top four seeds.
Koreans Park Joo-bong-Kim Moon-soo were the top seeds when they won the gold medal in Barcelona.
In the next Games in Atlanta in 1996, Indonesians Rexy Mainaky-Ricky Subagja beat Malaysians Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock in a final between the top two seeds. The other gold medallists were Indonesians Tony Gunawan-Candra Wijaya as top seeds in Sydney 2000 and Koreans Hae Tae-kwon-Kim Dong-moon as third seeds in Athens 2004.
Malaysia have won three medals thus far in the Olympic series – all from badminton. Besides the silver from Soon Kit-Kim Hock at the Atlanta Games, Rashid Sidek won the men's singles bronze.
The first Olympic medallists for Malaysia were the men’s doubles pair of Razif-Jalani Sidek, who took bronze in 1992.