The Star Online > Sports Thursday March 25, 2004

PETALING JAYA: The French Open badminton men’s doubles title has whetted the appetites of Gan Teik Chai and Koo Kien Keat for bigger success.

Teik Chai-Kien Keat bagged their first international Open title in Paris last Sunday, beating Denmark’s Jesper Larsen-Joachim Fischer Nielsen 15-6, 17-15 in the final.

They also fared up to expectations in the preceding Swiss Open and All-England, making it to the second round.

Teik Chai said yesterday that they were very pleased with their outing in Europe.

“We are happy to have met the target set by our coach (Yap Kim Hock). The target in the French Open was to reach the final but we went one better to win it,” said the 21-year-old Teik Chai.

“But the French Open is a small tournament (A-graded international). We hope to get better results in our upcoming tournaments.”

Teik Chai-Kien Keat are down to play in the Japan Open (April 6-11) and Asian Badminton Confederation (ABC) Championships in Kuala Lumpur (April 20-25).

The Asian Championships will be the last opportunity for players to gain points for Olympic qualification.

The top 16 pairs as at April 30 are assured of places in the Athens Olympics and Teik Chai-Kien Keat could surprise everyone by making the cut.

“But we are not putting too much hope on this. We just want to continue playing well and our aim is to make the squad for the Thomas Cup Finals (in Jakarta in May),” said Teik Chai.

Kien Keat said that they hoped the success in the French Open would become the launching pad for them to greater heights.

“We will seek to score more upset wins to improve on our world rankings,” said the 19-year-old Kien Keat.

The pair have been set the target to get among the top 20 in the rankings by the end of this year.

Teik Chai-Kien Keat are now in 51st spot but their victory in the French Open should move them up a few rungs.

The duo are the most improved pair in the national team this year since forging a combination a year ago.

In the National Grand Prix Finals in Seremban in January, they emerged as champions in the absence of national number one Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah.

Last year, they were the quarter-finalists in the Asian Championships and won the Luster Open title in Sungai Petani.