National coach Paulus Firman will head home to Indonesia Wednesday with a sense of accomplishment – having produced a men’s doubles champion in Malaysia in just 10 months.
On Sunday, world No. 10 Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong gave their coach a timely farewell gift when they nailed their first men’s doubles title – the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold.
Paulus hopes that Thien How-Wee Kiong, who had been under his charge from the first day he arrived in Malaysia in February, will continue to be hungry for success in order to be a more established pair.
“It gives me great satisfaction to see Thien How-Wee Kiong winning their first title before I leave. It all goes back to their renewed commitment as players in the national team. I am pleased,” said Paulus.
Prior to this, the duo did well to reach the final of China Open before going down to South Koreans Lee Yong-dae-Ko Sung-hyun.
Paulus tendered his resignation in October, citing a need to be with his family in Jakarta.
“There have been changes in Thien How and Wee Kiong over the last two months. We discussed their future as a pair and about giving whole-hearted commitment in training … and I’ am glad that they have responded,” said Paulus.
“They will have to keep at it if they want to go far. The win in Macau should give them the confidence and whet their appetite for more. I’d like to see them as medallists at the next Olympic Games.
“By getting the commitment part right, everything else will fall into place for them. The experienced Thien How will be motivated to improve on his physical condition while Wee Kiong will be inspired to add more quality to their combination.”
Paulus also expect the rise of Thien How-Wee Kiong to benefit the national team.
“It will take some pressure off top pair Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong. It will also serve as a wake-up call to Koo and Tan that their position as the top pair is not guaranteed. It creates a healthy environment for Malaysian badminton,” said Paulus.
“The other back-up pairs can now look up to Thien How-Wee Kiong and use them as a benchmark. They should be inspired to make breakthroughs like Thien How-Wee Kiong and be motivated to beat them.”
Paulus also had another piece of advice for the back-up pairs.
“Over the last 10 months, I have seen plenty of talents in the Malaysian stable. Talent alone, however, is not enough. It must be supported with a lot of hard work. I’ve enjoyed my stay here and I will miss Malaysia,” he said.