Hafiz back in the reckoning

Discussion in '2004 Tournaments' started by ants, Mar 1, 2004.

  1. ants

    ants Regular Member

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    HAFIZ Hashim’s international career is back on track as national singles coach Misbun Sidek, satisfied with the player’s commitment in training, has allowed him to rejoin national training and has included him for the Swiss Open and All-England Championships next month.
    Hafiz, under fire for his seemingly slow recovery from a wrist injury suffered three months ago and lack of focus in training, was dropped from the Thomas Cup squad for the Asian Zone qualifying round which concluded on Sunday.

    Misbun also kept him out of the national training sessions even after the player had fully recovered from the wrist injury in January as he expected Hafiz to be more serious in training.

    With his entry for the Swiss Open and All-England in doubt, Hafiz showed better commitment in training and Misbun, a few days ago, gave him the green light to compete. "I have been training very hard for the two tournaments and my only worry is a recurrence of the wrist injury. Being the defending champion, I will give the All-England my best shot although it will be tougher this year," said Hafiz.

    "The lack of tournament exposure over the last four months could give me problems but the Swiss Open should give me the right match exposure."

    National assistant coach Rashid Sidek said Hafiz is in good condition after being able to practice his smashes over the last two weeks and should be able to produce better results this year.

    "Due to the wrist injury, he was concentrating on physical training and skill work but now he is able to practise his smashes," said Rashid.

    "Smashes are his main weapon and now his training is complete. He should be able to produce better results this year as he is in an ideal condition to compete."

    However, Hafiz feels that unlike last year, the China’s shuttlers have been performing very well, Lin Dan in particular, and does not want to set any target.

    Qualifying for the Athens Olympics is his priority and his main concern is to stay injury-free and to perform consistently during the Olympic qualifying period which ends on April 30.

    "The battle for Olympic qualification is becoming increasingly difficult and I dare not predict anything for the All-England," added Hafiz.

    "My aim is to fight for an Olympic berth and I strongly believe I have a chance. I need to stay focused and be consistent to get into the top 15."

    It is not going to be easy for Hafiz, ranked 33rd, as he needs to compete with three other players — Lee Chong Wei, Roslin Hashim and Lee Tsuen Seng — to earn a ticket to Athens.

    Wong Choong Hann, ranked sixth, is virtually assured of a place in the Olympics while Chong Wei, ranked 16th, and Roslin, ranked 20th, are Hafiz’s strongest challengers for the remaining two places.

    A fine outing in the Swiss Open and All-England should give Hafiz a chance to improve his world ranking and also to mount a stronger challenge for a berth in the Olympics squad.
     

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