Wednesday, April 7, 2010

TheStar news: Old Hann-d keeps it up

By RAJES PAUL       

KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran Wong Choong Hann is feeling his age as he goes through the routine with the energetic back-up shuttlers at the national training centre.
But such is his determination that he is ready to plough through the regimented training programme once more – after a two-year absence from the national team – as he seeks to make his seventh appearance in the Thomas Cup Finals.

Choong Hann, who is one of the trainees shortlisted for the Finals, has been going through the drills with the national team for the last two weeks.
The world’s premier team event will be held at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil from May 9-16 and the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are expected to name their squad – four singles and three doubles pairs – before the entries by name for the event ends on April 23.
Choong Hann has turned up for training although the BAM have not officially begun their centralised training for the Finals.
His determination has won the admiration of national singles chief coach Rashid Sidek.
Said Rashid: “He looks very committed indeed – especially in raising his fitness level. He wants to show that his presence is not merely to make up the numbers.” The Dunlop-sponsored Choong Hann, who left the national team after the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008 to become an independent player, agreed that he was taking his time to adjust to the regimented training.
He has been training with Hendrawan’s group regularly and, twice a week, practises with national coach Misbun Sidek’s charges.
“My body is still trying to get used to the training once again. I do feel tired a bit. It may be challenging but I am determined to get myself ready if I am called up to represent the country for the Finals,” said the 33-year-old Choong Hann.
“Fortunately, I did not give up badminton completely after leaving the national team in 2008. I have been training, although not regularly, and playing in the German league has also helped. Now, I just have to get re-adjusted again.
“The only thing that is different now is that I feel old being among all these back-up shuttlers. But I am enjoying playing against them.”
The world No. 15 has played for the country in every Finals since 1998. If he gets the nod, he is likely to feature as the second singles.
Two others assured of their places are world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei and world No 19 Mohd Hafiz Hashim.
The frontrunner among the back-up shuttlers for the reserve spot is Tan Chun Seang.

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