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01-02-2006, 12:49 PM #1
Gold medal in Doha takes precedence
NST Jan 2:
NATIONAL chief coach Yap Kim Hock has identified five major tournaments for the senior players with the Doha Asian Games topping the list this year.
Malaysia has not won an Asian Games gold since Punch Gunalanís menís singles and doubles triumph with Ng Boon Bee in the 1970 Bangkok Games and Kim Hock wants the long wait to end.
Not only that, Kim Hock has also drawn clear guidelines for the players where they must also achieve a three-gold target in the Melbourne Commonwealth Games on Mar 15-26, reach the semi-finals of the Thomas Cup Finals in Tokyo on April 2 and have at least a finalist in the World Championships in Madrid on Sept 18-24.
The fifth target is for the Uber Cup squad to qualify for the final round in Tokyo and repeat their previous quarter-final achievement in Jakarta two years ago.
However, the year will not be complete if the Malaysians fail to end their 36-year gold drought in the Asian Games which will be held on Dec 1-8.
"It will be a hectic year for us but our target is the five major events. Gold medal in the Asian Games takes precedence while the other targets are also important for us," said Kim Hock before leading the team to Basel for the Swiss Open yesterday.
"It has been a long time since we won an Asian Games gold. We need to prove our worth in the tournament. It will not be an easy feat but we must go all out to achieve the feat.
"Competition may not be that tough in the Commonwealth Games but we must capture three gold medals.
"As for the Thomas Cup, we are not having high hopes and the initial target is to reach the last four and we must also have at least one of our players or pairs reach the final of the World Championships.
"We will be very selective in other tournaments and it does not matter if we donít do well in the international grand prix events."
In the Asian Games, Malaysia have an outside chance of clinching any one of the three gold medals in the menís events ó team, singles or doubles ó and much will depend on the consistency of the senior shuttlers.
Malaysiaís best achievement in the team event were silver medals in 1966 and 1990 but their win over Indonesia in the recent Sea Games team event should raise their hopes.
There will be a fighting chance in the menís singles should Lee Chong Wei and Hafiz Hashim improve their fitness and consistency.
It will be an open affair in the menís doubles where Malaysiaís top pairs Chan Chong Ming-Koo Kien Keat and Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah will have an even chance for glory.
Malaysiaís achievement in the Thomas Cup and World Championships will give a clear indication of how they will fare in the Asian Games which will be the final major event this year.
"We are not targeting too high in the Thomas Cup and anything better than the semi-finals is a bonus. However, the squad is one for the future," said Kim Hock.
"Except for Tan Fook, Wan Wah and Wong Choong Hann, the rest are below 25 and they can only become better.
"Our target for the world title is in 2007 where we will be the hosts but the players can surprise in Madrid. If not the title, they should at least be in the final."
The players will also compete in international grand prix events to safeguard their world rankings.
01-02-2006, 08:51 PM #2
I think a gold medal is a very difficult task for Malaysia. The competition is akin to world class minus the Europeans. Unless China and Indonesia takes the Asian Games less seriously, it will be almost impossible.
If every team fields its full strength, the best chance for a gold will come from the men's doubles.
01-03-2006, 10:07 PM #3
Its quite disappointing to read this article, it seems Yap Kim Hock lacks the confidence in his teams. I am surprised his priorities are Commenwealth games and Asia games, not Thomas Cup and World Champion.... How can a chief coach feels fortunate for his teams when China and Indonesia were absent from a tournament, its a sign of weakness
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