The Star Online > Sports
Tuesday August 3, 2004
Shuttlers certain that they will not meet each other in early rounds

BY RAJES PAUL

PETALING JAYA: With the maximum of three players in the men’s singles of the Athens Olympics, the Malaysian shuttlers are certain that they will not meet each other in the early rounds.

The third-seeded Wong Choong Hann and the unseeded Mohd Roslin Hashim and Lee Chong Wei will be in different quarters of the 32-player competition.

The draw will be made on Aug 8 for the competitions scheduled for Aug 14-21.

Choong Hann was glad to note that he would not be meeting any of his teammates in the early rounds though heremained fearful of being drawn against unseeded but formidable players.

“Because of restriction on the number of participants from countries in the Olympics, the draw is done differently from Open tournaments,” said the 27-year-old Choong Hann.

“In Open tournaments, there is a possibility of team-mates playing against each other in the early rounds. In this year’s All-England, I had to play against Hafiz (Hashim) in the second round and I lost.”

In the nationality separation rule for the World Grand Prix Circuit and World Championships, the top two ranked players from each country are drawn in different halves.

The same rule applies to the Olympics with the addition that the third-ranked player be drawn into one of the two remaining quarters.

“Hopefully, all of us will get into the quarter-finals. It will be great if we have an all-Malaysian semi-finals. That will ensure us of at least the silver,” said Choong Hann.

Choong Hann, who was a quarter-finalist in his Olympic debut in Sydney in 2000, is aware that there are several good players from other countries who are unseeded.

“They can make life difficult if we draw them in early rounds,” he said.

Among those who have the ability to pull the rug from under the seeded players are Singaporean Ronald Susilo, South Korean Park Tae-sang, Indonesian Taufik Hidayat, Thai Boonsak Ponsana and Dane Kenneth Jonassen.

Choong Hann is certain to avoid the three seeded Chinese players – top seed Lin Dan, second seed Chen Hong and fourth seed Bao Chunlai – until the semi-final stage. But Chong Wei and Roslin could come up against the Chinese in the early rounds.

Besides Malaysia and China, South Korea also have three singles players in the fray – fifth seed Lee Hyun-il, seventh seed Shon Seung-mo and Tae-sang.

The only non-Asian seeded in the men’s singles is Peter Gade-Christensen of Denmark at number six.

In the Olympics, Malaysia have won three medals – all from badminton.

The best effort was a silver from the doubles pair of Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Rashid Sidek won the men’s singles silver in Atlanta.

The other bronze was won by the Sidek combination of Razif-Jalani in the 1992 Barcelona Games.