Qatar News Kuan Beng Hong is not a well-known name outside badminton circles. Even within the badminton world, he was not one of the readily-recognised names. Not until May 6 of this year, however. With Malaysia and Denmark drawn 2-all in the semifinals of the Thomas Cup – the world men’s team championships – the tie was down to the fifth and last match. Denmark fielded a relative newcomer, Joachim Persson, while Malaysia sent forth Kuan Beng Hong. The Dane prevailed in a tight finish 21-12, 21-19 to send one of the pre-tournament favourites packing out of the Thomas Cup. Since then, Kuan has had a rough time. Internet discussion forums have vilified him for being chicken and not being able to handle the pressure. The Malaysian media went hammer and tongs at the team, and particularly at him. The Badminton Association of Malaysia changed his coach; while he was earlier with Misbun Sidek, the association asked him to train under Li Mao. And suddenly, the promising player – who in 2005 was runner-up at the Asian Badminton Confederation championships in Hyderabad — seemed to dig a deep hole for himself. Kuan’s confidence shattered, he lost in the first round of four tournaments, losing to opponents ranked legions below him. It was a surprise, therefore, when Malaysia named him as their third singles player for the Asian Games. This had more to do with national coach Misbun Sidek’s belief in his ability than anything else, and Misbun himself has had to face plenty of criticism for picking Kuan. Every match won now is a lifeline for Kuan Beng Hong. “Ï’m recovering,” he says. There was a time during this year when he was so down on himself he couldn’t beat even the journeymen of the game; but he managed to reach the pre-quarters of the last two events — the World Championships and the China Open. Not great results, but Kuan Beng Hong has already seen the worst the game can offer, and maybe he’s been so deep in the pits the only way is up.