With the Malaysia Open being postponed due to a surge of COVID-19 cases in the country, it comes as a big blow to every shuttler vying to garner crucial Olympic qualifying points, including the national contingent. With that being said, most who are slated to make the cut to Tokyo will confirm their berths nonetheless.
The Singapore Open (June 1-6) is the final event which offers qualifying points, but it will hardly make a difference to the Malaysian shuttlers' chances of featuring at the premiere sporting spectacle come this July.
Here are the Malaysian shuttlers who are on course for Tokyo, along with the ones who have missed out.
Lee Zii Jia
The All-England champion is all but set to feature in his maiden Olympics as he sits ninth on the Race To Tokyo (RTT) rankings. Lee is well inside the top 16 shuttlers to earn automatic qualification, thanks to a decent showing at the Swiss Open which saw him reach the semi-finals. The Swiss Open was the first event that offered Olympic qualifying points for the Asian shuttlers this year, so the Malaysian peaked at the right time after faring abysmally in prior events in Thailand.
Despite losing in the opening round of the four events she featured in this year, Cheah is a shoo-in to qualify to Tokyo by virtue of being 27th on the RTT rankings. Singles qualification dictates that the shuttlers ranked 17th and below will get one entry from their respective National Olympics Committees, so, in other words, Cheah will make it as the highest ranked Malaysian. Despite not making it beyond the second round of any competition in the last two years, the national women’s singles shuttler will get a chance at redemption at the world’s biggest stage.
Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik
Malaysia’s highest ranked doubles pair are two rungs outside the top eight that would have given them a better draw at the Olympics, but in their current 10th spot, they are guaranteed a ticket to Tokyo as the highest ranked Malaysians. If Chia-Soh had beaten Germans Mark Lamsfuss-Marvin Seidil at the Swiss Open semi-finals, they may have been higher up that list to overtake India’s Satwiksairaj Rankireddy-Chirag Shetty in ninth spot on the RTT. But one final and a semis outing this year served as a good base as they prepare for Tokyo.
Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean
The upcoming pair will be the country’s sole representatives in the women’s doubles, as they qualify as the highest ranked Malaysians at 14th on the RTT. Chow-Lee’s performances have been encouraging this year with three semi-final appearances. They are firmly on course to give the other formidable pairings a run for their money in Tokyo.
Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying
Goh recently complained that Asian shuttlers were denied a chance to collect more qualification points following the cancellation of the Asian Championships, but she and Chan will be relieved to have qualified to the Olympics. At seventh on the RTT, the mixed doubles duo will be seeded in Tokyo for a favourable draw too. But having only made one semis and crashed out in three quarter-finals this season, they have a lot of work to do if they even intend to emulate the silver medal won at the 2016 edition.
Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong
It will be heartbreaking for this 2016 silver medalists to miss out on this year’s rescheduled edition, as their 14th-placed RTT ranking has ultimately wiped out their chances of qualifying. With Chia-Soh ranked outside the top eight, that pair has taken up the slot for the highest ranked national shuttlers to qualify. It comes as a pity for this pair, who were only a point away from clinching gold in Rio.
Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai
It is the same case with Goh-Lai, who will miss out with Chan-Goh qualifying as the highest ranked mixed doubles national shuttlers. Each nation can send two pairs if both are ranked in the top eight of the RTT, but Goh-Lai’s 11th spot denies them of that opportunity. The Malaysians also flattered to deceive at the Swiss Open by crashing out in the last eight.