Boon Heong adopts a ‘have fun’ approach
The 21-year-old has found fun and joy playing badminton once again after being critical of himself for several failures this year.
And the cool and composed Kedahan hopes that his first Olympic outing with Koo Kien Keat will turn out to be the best in their two-year partnership.
“Kien Keat and I want to have fun in our first Games. We are not going to put any undue pressure on ourselves. It will be all about bringing out our best and enjoying each match as it comes. Nowadays, I do not get too worked up over simple mistakes even though I strive to make perfect shots,” said Boon Heong.
“I have given my best in training. I feel calm with myself and I hope to maintain this good feeling when I land in Beijing.”
Boon Heong-Kien Keat have failed in the defence of three Open titles this year – in Malaysia, England and Switzerland. And most of the times, the blame fell on Boon Heong for the lack of urgency in his game.
In the Thomas Cup Finals in Jakarta in May, Boon Heong was out of sorts and he was blunt in his attacks during the crucial semi-final tie against China. The pair lost to Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng in the first doubles match and Malaysia eventually lost the tie 2-3.
In the Beijing Olympics, Boon Heong-Kien Keat have a crucial first-round match against Japanese Shintaro Ikeda-Shuichi Sakamoto, whom they lost to in the World Championships last year and in the All-England this year.
“The first round will make all the difference for us. We can go far, if we clear this hurdle,” said Boon Heong.
The Malaysians have top seeds and world champions Markis Kido-Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia and China’s Guo Zhengdong-Xie Zhongbo in their quarter of the draw. Also in the half are world number six Lee Yong-dae-Jung Jae-sung of South Korea and Danes Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen.
Boon Heong is looking forward to the experience of playing in the Olympics.
“I was a national junior player when I watched our shuttlers in action during the 2004 Athens Olympics. Malaysia did not win a medal but it led me to think that one day I could be playing for the country in the Games,” he said.
“Everything has happened sooner than I imagined. Hopefully, we will be able to bring back home a medal.”
Even national doubles coach Rexy Mainaky is happy with Boon Heong’s new attitude.
“He is more relaxed. He has been enjoying the training sessions. He has taken great effort to polish up his smashing skills. Let’s hope he will show what he has gained in training in Beijing,” said Rexy.
Boon Heong-Kien Keat raised a hope of winning the country first gold medal at the Olympics when they ended the country’s 36-year wait for a title at the 2006 Doha Asian Games. They went on a great run last year and won six titles – in Malaysia, England, Switzerland, the Philippines, Macau and Denmark.
But after firing blank this year, the Olympics could be their first title this year – albeit the most prized one.