TheStar

KUALA LUMPUR: Singles shuttler Mohd Hafiz Hashim has opted out of an altitude training stint in Genting Highlands to concentrate on a special weight programme ahead of the World Championships, which will be played in Anaheim, California, from Aug 15-21.

The five-day stint in Genting begins today and it involves all the players who will feature in the world championships.

National chief coach Yap Kim Hock had said on Friday that the stint, which includes runs on the hilly terrain and court training, is aimed at breaking the monotony of the routines in the national training camp at the Juara Stadium in Bukit Kiara here.

Hafiz comes under the charge of Misbun Sidek.

“Plans have been made for Hafiz to undergo an intensive weight training this week,” said Misbun yesterday.

“We have only a few weeks to the world championships and he needs a more specific training programme to increase his endurance and to improve his ability to cover the court.”

Hafiz, 22, has dropped two rungs to eighth spot in the world rankings after the recent back-to-back Open tournaments in Singapore and Malaysia.

In Singapore, he was beaten in the third round by Ng Wei of Hong Kong. On home turf last week, he was eliminated by Peter-Gade Christensen of Denmark in the quarter-finals.

Misbun sees Hafiz as one of the contenders for the world title. “He started the year at number 37. He is now at number eight. I am happy with the improvement he has made thus far. His condition is good and there is no fear of injury,” he said.

Hafiz’s best achievements this year were victories in the back-to-back Swiss and Thai Open tournaments.

“Hafiz’s weapon is his attacking game. Based on recent displays, he has the ability to pose a threat to any of his rivals. We are now sharpening his attack and improving on certain weak areas in his game,” said Misbun.

Among the favourites for the world championships men’s singles title are Athens Olympics champion Taufik Hidayat of Indonesia; Gade-Christensen and his Danish teammate Kenneth Jonassen; China’s Lin Dan and Chen Hong; and Malaysian No 1 Lee Chong Wei, who won the Malaysian Open for the second consecutive time last week.

“Kenneth was not prominent in the Singapore and Malaysian Opens. But I will not rule him out as one of the favourites,” said Misbun. “Taufik did well in Singapore while Gade-Christensen has been consistent. The Chinese players are always dangerous. Hafiz and Chong Wei will also be strong contenders.”

Besides Hafiz and Chong Wei, Malaysia’s other entry for the men’s singles is veteran Wong Choong Hann, who was the runner-up in the last world championships in Birmingham in 2003.

The men’s doubles pairs are Chan Chong Ming-Koo Kien Keat, Mohd Fairuzizuan Mohd Tazari-Lin Woon Fui, Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock and Choong Tan Fook-Chew Choon Eng.

In the women’s singles Malaysia have two entries – Wong Mew Choo and M. Sutheaswari. There will be four double pairs – Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty, Fong Chew Yen-See Phui Leng, Mooi Hing Yau-Ooi Sock Ai and Chor Hooi Yee-Lim Pek Siah.

But Sutheaswari and Hooi Yee-Pek Siah will not take part in the stint in Genting because they are not national team members.