Badminton: Make no mistake, being No. 1 is a journey, not a destination

So Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong are at the pinnacle of their sport. Wonderful. I hope they remember the legacy of being World No. 1 in Malaysia. The legacy of underachievement. I hope they realize it, and aim to break the rot.

Rashid was for a short time World No. 1. So was Roslin. Lee Chong Wei. None of them held onto the top spot for very long. It’s as though they thought that achieving the No. 1 position was a goal, like someone passing the tape at a marathon finish line. Their standard of badminton at the point of reaching No. 1 took a dive, and none of them made it back up. It was also telling that none of them held to the No. 1 spot for very long either.
Will KKK-TBH follow in their footsteps? Malaysian badminton players have notoriously weak mental strength. Can they take the heat of being the pair everyone wants to scalp?
Not reading the newspapers regularly does have its disadvantages. I didn’t know about the rift between the pair when the story broke – someone mentioned it to me. I was surprised, but it was not unexpected. When you get poor results.
I’m a very vocal critic of our badminton team. But I believe that KKK is probably the world’s most potent doubles player at present, second only to the incomparable Tony Gunawan. KKK is a better player than TBH. But so what? The pair is only as good as the pairing forged, not on the individual player. KKK has to be matured about the nature of their pairing, and put in the work required to make it work, just like anyone would have to put in the work to make any relationship work.
That’s not to say TBH has nothing to do. KKK has a right to expect a higher standard of play from him, and the way to show he is serious is to improve his game. He’s not that shabby, but to be demanded to be even better speaks volumes about their ability.
It’s good they got over the supposed ‘rift’ quickly, and won the Macau Open (though I must say they won it by the skin of their teeth).
So. World No. 1. What next? They have to stay there.
Here’s what they have to do. Remember their hunger when they first came onto the scene. Hungry and with a point to prove. To play without pressure and with the intense desire to win, and the willingness to work together to do it.
They’ve proven it and now risen to the top. Remember that they have another point to prove now – that they are here to stay. Perched at the summit.


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