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Badminton: Mental tune-up for shuttlers

By : K.M. Boopathy

Koo Kien Keat (front) and Tan Boon Heong were first spotted by Rexy Mainaky at the first stint in Kuching in 2006.

PREPARATIONS for the All England and Swiss Open Super Series will begin with separate motivational camps for the national singles and doubles squads in Kuching beginning on Friday. The motivational camps, to be conducted by mental trainer Fred Tan, has been requested by coaches Misbun Sidek and Rexy Mainaky for their players to recuperate from a tough schedule which began with the Beijing Olympics last August.

The players have already started their condition training and Rexy has maintained that the motivational camp is something players need to attend before a tough season resumes with the German Open on Feb 24-March 1.

"The international calendar has been hectic and we had also started training immediately after the Malaysia Open.

"The motivational camp is needed to inject some freshness into the players," said Rexy.
"The players also need to do something different from the normal training schedule and that's why Kuching has been selected.

"Mental strength is a key factor that players need to improve and I am optimistic the players will gain a lot from the session in preparing for the All England and Swiss Open."

The German Open will only involve the back-up elite players while the national elite shuttlers will compete in the All England on March 3-8 and the Swiss Open on March 10-15.

The national team previously had a one-week training stint in Kuching prior to the Thomas Cup Finals in 2006 but the motivational camps will focus solely on team building and other mental training.

The singles players will be attending the first camp from Friday to Monday, while the doubles camp will be held on Feb 5-8.

The 2006 stint turned out to be a blessing for Rexy as that was where he first spotted Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong as a potential pair for the future and they were tested for the first time at the Thomas Cup Finals in Japan.

Kien Keat-Boon Heong took the world by storm several months later and the same pair will be back to familiar territory but must do some soul searching to find ways to stabilise their inconsistent performances of late.

The other player who is looking forward to the mental training camp is World No 1 Lee Chong Wei who will be aiming overcome the disappointment of losing to Denmark's Peter Gade Christensen in the Korea Open final last week but, more importantly, to be prepared to face a tougher challenge from arch rival Lin Dan of China.

Lin Dan, the Olympic champion, skipped the Malaysia Open and Korea Open but will be in action at the All England seeking his fourth title, while Chong Wei will be gunning for his first.

A total of 16 singles and eight doubles pairs will be attending the motivational camps.

Sources: NST Online