Tuesday, October 29, 2013

End of an era

TIME'S UP: Chong Wei has to accept best days are behind him, no hope for Kien Keat-Boon Heong

LEE Chong Wei's playing career is fast approaching its twilight but men's doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong, despite making the final of the French Open, can forget about reviving theirs.
Chong Wei has been given a stern reminder -- first by Chen Long of China in the Denmark Open and then by Kenichi Tago of Japan in the French Open -- that age has caught up with the World No 1 and it will be hard for him to dominate any longer.

At 31, Chong Wei will be involved in a losing battle against Chen Long and Kenichi, both aged 25, whose physical fitness is expected to make the Malaysian struggle on the international scene from now on.

Over the last two years, Chong Wei had occasionally lost to the likes of Chen Long and other China players when he was not prepared for an event but Kenichi's victory over the Malaysian in the French Open semi-finals brutally showed that his experience and skills will no longer be enough to beat the younger players.

Chong Wei can, occasionally, still win international honours but is no longer a force in major events, so the BA of Malaysia (BAM) must bite the bullet and start preparing for the future.
While Chong Wei had done a great job for the nation during his prime, he has much to give back to the sport and should start helping the younger generation of players.

If Chong Wei can spar with the likes of Soo Teck Zhi, Soong Joo Ven, Lim Chi Wing, Tan Kian Meng and Chong Yee Han, these players will be able to learn from the veteran and will progress faster.

If the current scenario is anything to go by, BAM must forget about immediate targets and start focusing on the future and prepare players who are capable of taking over from Chong Wei and have something significant to offer in the 2016 Olympics.

For sure, Chong Wei will try to bounce back in upcoming tournaments to safeguard his reputation but Kien Keat-Boon Heong showed in Denmark and France that they are a spent force and have been for a long time now.

Fans should not be deceived by them reaching the French Open final as they had an easy draw.
The Malaysian pair plunged to a new low by losing to Markis Kido-Gideon Markus Fernaldi who are not even part of Indonesia's national team and losing to them in straight games is a clear indication of how far they have fallen.

In fact, their fall from grace started happening years ago but BAM always turned a blind eye.
In France, the only pair that had any quality was Japan's second combination of Hirokatsu Hashimoto-Noriyasu Hirata.

They were not expected to get past the quarter-final stage in a supposed clash against bogey pair Kim Ki Jung-Kim Sa Rang but the South Koreans were surprisingly beaten by Chris Adcock-Andrew Ellis of England.

Adcock-Ellis dragged Kien Keat-Boon Heong to three games and compatriots Tan Wee Kiong-Hoon Thien How did the same in the last four.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong's toothless performance against Markis-Gideon clearly showed they have lost their hunger and determination, and BAM must look beyond them.

Wee Kiong-Thien How had beaten a world class combination in Lee Yong Dae-Yoo Yeon Seong of South Korea but they must consistently achieve such results or they can forget about making it big on the world stage.

BAM must invest in younger combinations immediately or face the prospect suffering bigger failures next year.

Lee Chong Wei

Read more: End of an era - Badminton - New Straits Times

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