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KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s number one women’s doubles team, Pearly Tan-M. Thinaah, remains on track to challenge for a podium position at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, despite missing out on their first championship of the season at the 2023 Hong Kong Open yesterday.

Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) coaching director Rexy Mainaky expressed confidence after evaluating the performance of Pearly-Thinaah, who secured the runner-up position in the championship at Coliseum Hong Kong, Kowloon.

According to Rexy, he was satisfied with the overall performance of Pearly-Thinaah in the Super 500-level championship, which saw his protégés fall to the Indonesian pair, Apriyani Rahayu-Siti Fadia Silva Ramadhanti, with a score of 21-14, 22-24, 9-21 in a 73-minute showdown.

“Overall, the performance was quite promising, and I would rate it around eight to nine. Pearly-Thinaah is well-positioned to compete for a medal at the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou,“ Rexy told Bernama.

Meanwhile, the Indonesian doubles specialist is still awaiting updates on Pearly’s injury. Pearly fell on the court during the deciding set, causing her to lose focus and miss out on this year’s inaugural title.

Pearly-Thinaah’s performance in Kowloon saw them secure the runners-up position for the second time this year after being disappointed in the Malaysia Masters 2023 final by the South Korean pair Baek Ha Na-Lee So Hee in 22-20, 8-21, 21-17 in May.

Pearly-Thinaah last became champions at the French Open 2022 in October, surprising two-time world champions Mayu Matsumoto and Wakana Nagahara from Japan, 21-19, 18-21, 21-15.

The 2022 Commonwealth Games champions are set to begin the national badminton squad training camp tomorrow at ABM, Bukit Kiara, and will leave for Hangzhou on Sept 25.

Vivian Hoo-Woon Khoo Wei were the nation’s last women’s doubles pair to win a medal in the team event at the quadrennial championships with a bronze medal in the 2014 edition in Incheon, South Korea.

The 2022 Hangzhou Asian Games, which were postponed for a year due to COVID-19, are scheduled to open on Sept 23 and end on Oct 8. - Bernama