PETALING JAYA: The vastly experienced South Korean doubles pairs of Lee Dong-soo-Yoo Yong-sung and Ha Tae-kwon-Kim Dong-moon have kept their rivals in the dark by training for the Olympics in seclusion for the past three months.

The two formidable pairs chose to skip the Malaysian Open in June to train at home under Park Joo-bong, the two-time Olympic gold medallist and former coach of the Malaysian doubles players.

And this is a worrying factor for national doubles coach Yap Kim Hock, especially when his charges are now likely to cross swords with the Koreans in the medal playoff stages in Athens.

In the draw released on Sunday for the competitions at the Goudi Olympic Hall from Aug 15-21, the fourth seeded Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah are tipped to play against either Dong-soo-Yong-sung, the silver medallists in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, or Indonesians Luluk Hadiyanto-Alven Yulianto in the quarter-finals.

On their current form, Tan Fook-Wan Wah should be able to get past Thais Pramote Teerawiwatana-Tesana Panvisvas in their opening match in the second round.

Past results against Dong-soo-Yong-sung do not favour the Malaysians. Tan Fook-Wan Wah have only won once in five matches.

Dong-soo-Yong-sung beat the Malaysian pair to win the Hong Kong Open title last year and their most memorable victory was achieved in the semi-finals of the Sydney Olympics.

“The Koreans are definitely very serious in their preparation for the Athens Games.

“The two pairs came very close to winning in Sydney four years ago. They are not getting any younger and this is their best chance to bag the Olympic gold,” said Kim Hock before leaving with the team for Athens on Sunday night.

“We do not have any latest information on how well they had prepared. They are unseeded but we have to take them seriously because they have a wealth of experience.

“Their coach is also familiar with our players and that is a benefit to them.”

The third seeded pair of Tae-kwon-Dong-moon, who defeated Tan Fook-Wan Wah to win the bronze in the Sydney Games, stand in the path of Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng.

Chong Ming-Choon Eng could come up against them if they get past China’s sixth seeds Sang Yang-Zheng Bo in the second round.

Chong Ming-Choon Eng open their campaign against Greeks Velkos Theodoros-George Patis. And they have a 1-1 record against Sang Yang-Zheng Bo, losing the last encounter in the quarter-finals of the World Championships in Birmingham last year.

But Kim Hock chose not to rule out Chong Ming-Choon Eng’s chances of getting into the playoffs for medals.

“They have as good a chance as Tan Fook-Wan Wah to win a medal because their form in training has been very good,” he said.

“If Chong Ming-Choon Eng can beat Sang Yang-Zheng Bo, they can also beat Tae-kwon-Dong-moon.”

Kim Hock added that it was good that Tan Fook-Wan Wah was not drawn for an early meeting against Dong-soo-Yong-sung.

“They have a good chance to reach the final if they get past the quarter-finals. The draw is okay for them,” he said.

If Tan Fook-Wan Wah reach the semi-finals, they could play against either All-England champions Jens Eriksen-Martin Lundgaard of Denmark or China’s Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun.

Tan Fook-Wan Wah have won matches against both these pairs.

TheStar