FINISHING fourth in the Olympics is an achievement and there can be no arguments about that.
A disappointed Tan Boon Heong (left) and Koo Kien Keat after losing their bronze medal playoff to South Korea’s Chung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae on Sunday.
However, the question national doubles coach Tan Kim Her has to find an answer to is whether the Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong pairing should be allowed to continue or is it time for the two to find new partners to revitalise their careers.
Splitting them after the Olympics was an option that had been contemplated but the two, after falling to South Korea's Chung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae, indicated they were happy to continue as a pair.
"I don't see any reason why we should be split as Boon Heong and I have no major issues. If there is anything affecting our partnership, I would say it is communication on court, which is something that can be easily solved. I believe that we have shown in the Olympics that we can still be a formidable pair and I can't see myself partnering anyone else," said Kien Keat on Sunday.
The flamboyant Kien Keat also dispelled speculation that he was contemplating retirement. "I am not young but neither am old and I believe I still have several years of badminton left in me," added Kien Keat, who turns 27 next month.
Boon Heong is two years younger and he too said he was happy to continue with Kien Keat as his partner.
"I believe we are still capable of making it as a top pair and I am happy to continue partnering Kien Keat," said Boon Heong, whose potential partner should there be a split is Hoon Thien How. Kim Her, although he was coy about it, also indicated that he wasn't contemplating splitting the two. "Now is not the time to talk about whether they should be split as they have performed well in the Olympics. I have a four-year plan (aimed at the next Olympics) and decisions will be made when the time is right," said Kim Her.
Those decisions though should also take into consideration whether maintaining Kien Keat-Boon Heong will deliver the desired results.
Although they impressed in the Olympics with their focus and commitment, they were found wanting against pairs who are dominating men's doubles today -- newly-crowned Olympic champions Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng of China and South Korean bronze medallists Chung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae. They lost to the China pair in the semi-finals and were beaten twice by the Koreans in London -- in the group stage and the bronze medal playoff.
Their recent record against Danish silver medallists Mathias Boe-Carsten Mogensen and Indonesia's Mohamad Ahsan-Bona Septano isn't something to crow about either and there is also the other Korean pairing of Ko Sung Hyun-Yoo Yeon Seong to worry about.
Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng, as Kien Keat pointed out, are an older pair compared to the Malaysians while Jae Sung , at 29, is also contemplating retirement but the question that Kim Her, as the chief coach, has to answer is can Kien Keat-Boon Heong beat the best if they are to be maintained as a pair, and if the answer is no, then who can they partner to ensure that Malaysian doubles remain relevant on the world stage.