The Star online

Friday January 27, 2012


KUALA LUMPUR: Former Olympic champion Rexy Mainaky was a broken man when he was demoted from the high-profile job of coaching the mens doubles elite team to grooming the womens doubles players last year.

But he is having the last laugh.

His old pair of Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty are back in the reckoning for a spot in the Olympic Games in London while the new and vibrant Woon Khe Wei-Vivian Hoo combination have raised hopes for the future by breaking into the top 20 for the first time.

In the latest world rankings released by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) yesterday, Eei Hui-Pei Tty moved up five rungs to No. 14 in the world. Only the top 16 are assured places in the Olympics.

At one point just a year ago, the duo were ranked as low as 68th in the world following Pei Ttys eight-month absence due to a knee injury. They were No. 4 in the world when Pei Tty decided to undergo surgery in August 2010.

While the seniors seem to have found the motivation to rise again, the younger pair of Khe Wei-Vivian showed they too have plenty of fire in their belly when they moved up two rungs to 19th in the world for the first time.

Both the pairs improvement in the rankings can be attributed to their good performances at the recent Malaysia Open. Eei Hui-Pei Tty defeated Korea Open Grand Prix Gold champions Eom Hye-won-Jang Ye-na of South Korea en route to the quarter-finals while Khe Wei-Vivian stunned third seeds Miyuki Maeda-Satoko Suetsuna of Japan in the opening round before reaching the last eight.

With just three months before the qualifying period for the Olympic Games ends, Rexy is optimistic that the womens doubles will continue showing steady progress.

Im pleased with Eei Hui-Pei Ttys strong showing at the Malaysia Open. I believe they will continue to improve. They are enjoying the game once again and it is great to see them breaking into the top 16, said Rexy.

Its also good to have a second pair Khe Wei and Vivian snapping at their heels. I wont be surprised if they join the seniors in the top ranks.

To have two pairs in the top 16 will be a boost for womens doubles.

Rexys immediate task is to see his charges deliver at the Uber Cup qualifying tournament in Macau from Feb 13-19.

Besides the top two doubles pairs, the others in the team are Goh Liu Ying-Lim Yin Loo and singles players Tee Jing Yi, Lydia Cheah, Sonia Cheah and Sannatasah Saniru.

Malaysia will be fighting for one of the three tickets on offer for the Finals in Wuhan in May.

With defending champions South Korea and hosts China already assured of their places, the fight for the remaining slots will be among Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Macau, Singapore, Sri Lanka and Vietnam.

It isnt an easy task. Japan are the strongest but I reckon we can still challenge the others in the doubles department. Khe Wei injured her ankle during the Malaysia Open but she is better now. We are helping her regain her strength and movement on court, said Rexy.

But given the rather weak singles cast, it will be quite difficult for Malaysia to beat the likes of Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia and even India for one of the slots to the Finals