Wan Arif Junaidi-Haikal Nazri have no qualms about missing Hari Raya celebrations with their families as long as the men’s doubles pair can fulfill their wish to retain Malaysia's gold medal at the upcoming SEA Games in Hanoi.
While most fans are getting hyped up about the upcoming Thomas & Uber Cup next week, the younger contingent would be keen to impress at the SEA Games where Malaysia nailed three gold medals at the 2019 edition in Manila.
This time around, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) opted to field a young team, with Arif-Haikal representing one of the biggest chances of stepping onto the podium.
The pair are currently in their final phase of training at the Academy Badminton Malaysia before they leave for Hanoi on May 14.
“We had also missed Hari Raya last year as we were competing in Europe. Of course we miss celebrating with our families, but we take it as a responsibility to raise Malaysia’s name at the SEA Games.
“We want the gold medal in this auspicious month. Perhaps winning both in the men’s teams and men’s doubles events,” Haikal said.
Arif-Haikal were one of the most in-form shuttlers within the national ranks last year by winning three titles at the Austrian Open, Hellas International and Ukraine International.
Besides that, the pair also finished as runners-up at the Latvia International and Scottish Open.
This year, the Malaysians pushed top French pair Christo-Toma Junior Popov to three close games at the Orleans Open final to finish second.
Their steady performances saw the East Coast shuttlers rise into the top 100 rankings at 80th.
Arif-Haikal would have to contend against All-England champions Shohibul Fikri-Bagas Maulana and Badminton Asia Championships gold medalists Pramudya Kusumawardana-Yeremia Erich if they intend to win the men's doubles gold.
In the previous edition, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, who lost to Kusumawardana-Erich on Sunday, won the men’s doubles event.
Besides them, Lee Zii Jia (men’s singles) and S.Kisona (women’s singles) were the other gold medalists Manila.