March 11, 2007 23:28 PM
From Jaiarajo Letchumanan
BIRMINGHAM, March 11 (Bernama) — Doha Asian Games gold medallists Koo Kien Keat/Tan Boon Heong put up a smashing performance to end the country’s 25-year wait for the All England men’s doubles title after beating China’s top seeds Cai Yun/Fu Haifeng at the Birmingham National Indoor Arena here today.
The new kids on the block, playing together for only about five months now, emulated the success of brothers Razif-Jalani Sidek who were the last Malaysians to win the title back in 1982 after beating William Gillard/Dan Travers of Scotland.
Despite taking the first game with relative ease, the duo gave coach Rexy Mainaky, the Malaysian camp and the few hundred Malaysian fans present some anxious moments in the second game when the Chinese pair began to stamp their authority on the match, largely due to numerous unforced errors by the duo, especially Kien Keat who looked very tense.
The second game was in fact 17-16 in favour of the Chinese before the Malaysian pair regrouped to walk out winners and pocket the USD14,400 (RM50,400) prize money on offer.
The tears of emotion rolling down his cheeks during the prize presentation best reflected the feelings of Kien Keat, who has played at the championship three times before with former partner Chan Chong Ming.
“This title means the world to me after three earlier failures. This one’s for the Malaysian fans who had given us tremendous support throughout the competition and our coach. We had beaten the Chinese pair at the Doha Asian Games and were optimistic of repeating that feat today.
“However, the second game saw the Chinese coming at us in full force but thank God we managed to steady ourselves,” said Kien Keat after the prize presentation ceremony.
It was the second title of the year for the duo who had won the Malaysian Open in January.
Their win also completes an accomplishment of having beaten the world’s top two pairs in the competition as they had overcome second seeds Jens Eriksen/Martin Lungaard of Denmark in the semi-final yesterday.
“We did not have any specific game plan but we were ready to go into the attack right from the start as the Chinese pair also play a similar game like us. We knew that the team that made the less mistake would win,” said Boon Heong.
Winning the title is a breath of fresh air for Malaysian badminton as a whole, especially after all the others had failed to surpass the semi-finals.