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Reflections: gold in Singapore, now Chan Kong Wah prepares for Tokyo

Sunday 09 May

Just over a quarter of a century ago, Chan Kong Wah was very much the man of the moment at the 1995 Commonwealth Championships in Singapore; now he is very much the central figure in Hong Kong, the head coach.

Staged in extreme heat, reportedly 90 degrees Fahrenheit at night, 96 degrees during the day, at one stage England’s Alan Cooke, hanging out seven shirts and eight soaked towels to dry, Chan Kong Wah won the men’s singles titles after having guided Hong Kong to men’s team gold.

Furthermore, he proved himself most adept against those who employed long pimpled rubber on the backhand.

Lining up alongside Chan Chi Ming and Lo Chuen Tsung, in a 4-3 men’s team final success, he beat both Carl Prean (21-16, 15-21, 21-19) and Andrew Eden (21-16, 21-14). Crucially he partnered Lo Chen Tsung to success in the doubles contest against Carl Prean and Alan Cooke, a player who used reversed rubber on both sides of the racket.

Success in the men’s team event against England, for the then 33-year-old it was the same in the men’s singles. At the semi-final stage, once again he overcame Carl Prean (21-16, 15-21, 21-19), before securing the title at the expense of Alan Cooke (16-21, 21-11, 21-19, 21-16).

Now the task for Chan Kong Wah is to prepare Hong Kong for the Olympic Games; a detailed programme, five to six hours per day, six days a week, is in place.

  • 120 minutes: practice routines
  • 45 to 60 minutes: multi-ball
  • 30 minutes: service
  • 30 to 45 minutes: matches
  • 45 to 60 minutes physical

Added to the situation is the fact that everything must be conducted within guidelines necessary owing to the pandemic.

“Players have to return before 10.00 pm every day; players and coaches have to take Covid-19 PCR tests once a week and avoid dining outside”, explained Chan Kong Wah.

Furthermore, nearer the time, there will be amendments to the programme.

“Targeted training aimed at specific opponents will be carried out”, added Chan Kong Wah. “Training will also imitate competition under the Olympic model, in particular we will increase the practical and targeted training plus doubles and mixed doubles.”

Notably a psychologist will accompany the team in Tokyo; the plan being to travel to the Olympic village one week before the event starts.

Coaching the role for Chan Kong Wah, the same as in 1995; when he struck gold in Singapore, he was the coach for Mulheim in the German Bundesliga. Could that be a good omen with Tokyo?

Editor: Ian Marshall

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