Liew Daren, Chong Wei Feng, Chan Kwong Beng, Goh V Shem, Lim Khim Wah, Ong Jian Guo and Nelson Heg. Yes, they were on board flight MH2 Boeing 747 late last night, bound for London. But they are the supporting cast, so to speak. Their job is to make sure Malaysia’s creme de la creme – Datuk Lee Chong Wei, Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying and Tee Jing Yi, are kept on their toes in the final homestraight before the 2012 London Olympics kicks off exactly two weeks from today.
Team manager Ng Chin Chai says the 11-day stint at Bath as the final-tune up for Wembley Arena would put the team in the right frame of mind.
“Five days of training, one day rest and followed by another five days of training before we travel to Wembley by a chartered bus seem to be the ideal preparation,” said Chin Chai.
In London, the singles players will be divided into 16 groups, with a minimum of three and maximum of four in a group, which is designed in such a way to prevent shuttlers from the weaker nations to take the first flight home so early in the Games.
The winner of each group will advance to the elimination round. In previous Games, it was a straight forward knockout battle from the opening round.
“We will see how the draw on July 23 goes but there is the likelihood of Chong Wei playing only one game in a space of four days based on this round-robin format,” said the BA of Malaysia secretary.
The shuttlers will be greeted in Bath, about 150km west of London, by former squash official, Wong Ah Jit, as the National Sports Institute’s representative and high-performance committee member. Suprising to note the former Army man, despite not having a sports science background, is leading a group of sports scientists and two chefs.
Lee Chong Wei (men’s singles)
Age: 29 (30 in October)
Latest world ranking: 2
All time best ranking: 1
Coach: Tey Seu Bock/Rashid Sidek
Motivation: Seeking the elusive gold medal and major title
Current condition: 85 percent fit, following ankle injury in May
Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong (men’s doubles)
Age: 26 (27 in September)/24 (25 in September)
Latest world ranking: 8
All time best ranking: 1
Coach: Pang Cheh Chang/Tan Kim Her
Motivation: To rediscover the form of late 2006, early 2007 after departure of top-class coaches Rexy Mainaky and Yoo Yong Sung
Current condition: 95 percent
Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles)
Latest world ranking: 7
All time best ranking: 7
Coach: Jeremy Gan
Motivation: To cement place as nation’s best ever mixed pair
Current condition: Probably at their peak
Tee Jing Yi (women’s singles)
Latest world ranking: 60
All time best ranking: 48
Coach: Chi Shanrong (Rashid will supervise Jing Yi in London)
Motivation: Out to enjoy her maiden outing
Current condition: 100 percent underdog
KL Racquet Club owner Datuk Seri Andrew Kam has promised a gold bar, worth RM2 million, to a local gold medallist in badminton. The 12.5kg gold bar will be shared should there be more than one gold medallist. Unfortunately it applies only to badminton. Wonder why it was not extended to other disciplines?
To be continued…