THE BA of Malaysia (BAM) executive committee, after much deliberation yesterday, decided not to split men's doubles Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and want to retain them until next year's World Championships.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong must reach the final of the World Championships, expected to be held in Guangzhou on Aug 4-11, and if they fail, BAM president Datuk Nadzmi Salleh said they will be split.
Nadzmi, who chaired the exco meeting, said reaching the final of the World Championships is a realistic target and the decision not to split them immediately was taken after listening to Kien Keat-Boon Heong's request that they be given the opportunity to aim for the major title before the association decides on their fate.
"We deliberated on the future of Kien Keat-Boon Heong at length and they will play on until next year's World Championships. Their target is to reach at least the final," said Nadzmi.
"Taking into account that time and money have been spent on them and they are only 27 (Kien Keat) and 25 (Boon Heong), they will be given the chance.
"Kien Keat-Boon Heong have also made the request that they be granted the opportunity to play in the major event and we felt they should be given the chance to do so.
"However, they are also required to partner other players in selected grand prix tournaments but their partners have yet to be decided. We will wait for doubles chief coach Tan Kim Her's suggestions."
Kim Her has already suggested Boon Heong to partner Goh V Shem while Kien Keat could either partner Lim Khim Wah or another back-up player in selected tournaments.
However, it remains to be seen if this latest development bears fruit as Kien Keat-Boon Heong's prime target is to do well in the Super Series tournaments and confirm their qualification for the World Championships.
The decision was also a surprise as it was initially learnt that the majority of the coaching and training committee (CTC) and former internationals had wanted Kien Keat and Boon Heong to be split.
Nadzmi also said the association had a duty to listen to reasons why Kien Keat-Boon Heong should not be split.
It was also speculated that Kien Keat-Boon Heong, if forced to split, had decided to leave BAM and join a club which was ready to offer them an attractive deal and this could be the main reason behind BAM's sudden change of heart.