Badminton: Malaysia’s medal bid at C’wealth Games depends on how women perform in Delhi
By RAJES PAUL
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will be banking on the magic of woman doubles shuttler Woon Khe Wei to pull of the unthinkable in the Commonwealth Games badminton competition.
In fact, the 21-year-old Khe Wei and her team-mates hold the key to whether the badminton team can return from New Delhi as the most successful side.
At the last Games in Melbourne, Malaysia won four out of the seven gold medals – through men’s singles (Lee Chong Wei), men’s doubles (Koo Kien Keat-Chan Chong Ming), women’s doubles (Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui) and mixed team.
In order to defend the mixed team gold, the women shuttlers will have to live up to expectations.
Khe Wei will be partnering the experienced Chin Eei Hui for the first time following an injury to Pei Tty while the other women shuttlers are Wong Mew Choo, Lydia Cheah and Goh Liu Ying.
Khe Wei has pulled of the unexpected once – when she formed a strong partnership with Ng Hui Lin to clinch Malaysia’s first gold medal in 34 years at the Laos SEA Games last year.
And national doubles women’s coach Pang Cheh Chang is hoping that Khe Wei would wave her magic wand again.
“The Khe Wei-Eei Hui partnership will be an interesting one. Both are left-handed players and are playing together for the first time,” said Cheh Chang.
“Eei Hui, being the more experienced one, will have to ensure that their combination gets off to a flying start.”
The Games could probably be Eei Hui’s last outing as the 27-year-old is not expected to feature at the Glasgow Games in 2014.
“I received feedback from Eei Hui that Khe Wei has been complementing her well in training. Khe Wei is physically strong and it all depends on her to bring out her best.
“Hopefully, they will achieve good results for the country,” said Cheh Chang.
Khe Wei-Eei Hui have important roles to play in both the individual and mixed team events.
Their main challengers in the women’s doubles are England’s Jenny Wallwork-Gabrielle White and Singapore’s Yao Jie-Shinta Mulia Sari.
The Singaporeans did exceptionally well this year when they defied the odds to win their Super Series title in Singapore.
In the women’s singles, however, the odds are stacked against Mew Choo, who is still chasing her first Commonwealth Games individual title.
In Melbourne, she did well in the mixed team event but went down to England’s Tracey Hallam in the women’s singles final. This time, India’s Saina Nehwal could stop her from making a breakthrough in her last Commonwealth Games outing.
However, there could be surprises in the mixed doubles if Liu Ying and Eei Hui can go the extra mile.
Liu Ying will team up with Chan Peng Soon while Eei Hui will combine with Kien Keat.
The mixed doubles event is the most difficult one to win – especially when the field consists of traditionally strong English pairs of Nathan Robertson-Wallwork, Anthony Clark-White. And one should not rule out Singapore’s world No. 17 Triyachart Chayut-Yao Jie either.
In fact, Malaysia have never won the mixed doubles gold in the Commonwealth Games. Their best was a silver medal through Eei Hui-Chew Choon Eng at the 2002 Manchester Games.
On paper, world No. 1s – Chong Wei and Kien Keat-Boon Heong – are expected to win the men’s singles and doubles titles respectively without much problems.