PERSONALITIES: IS ZHAO KAPOW BACK?
** This NEW SHUTTLENWS report is presented by YANG YANG BADMINTON PRODUCTS
and their USA agents, CHIN SPORTS (firstname.lastname@example.org or 212-645-4142).**
April 6, 1997 (NEW SHUTTLENWS) - Badminton fans watching the men's doubles
semifinal matches at the Perak Open tournament of the Malaysian Proton-EON
badminton series may have thought they were hallucinating when they saw a
tall high-cheekboned Chinese lefthander leaping up with both legs tucked
and unloading hesitation jumpsmashes and drops. He certainly looked and played
like Zhao Jian Hua, the 1991 world men's singles champion. A quick look at the
scoreboard and yes, it was Zhao Kapow, as he was aptly nicknamed by the
press because of his attacking ability.
Zhao had retired from the Chinese national team in 1993 after trying his hand
at mixed doubles and failing to make the adjustment from singles tactics. He
had then been recruited by the Singapore badminton association to help develop
their players and he has been coaching and sparring in Singapore since 1994.
And now here he was in the men's doubles semifinals of a top tournament in a
country that takes pride in the high standard of their men's doubles pairs.
Is he coming back to play in men's doubles?
According to former members of the Chinese national team who are close to
Zhao Kapow, the former world champion was only filling in for the regular
partners of Patrick Lau of Singapore. Lau would normally compete with Tan
Sian Peng, but Tan is still recovering from a knee injury. Eric Law, who has
also partnered Patrick Lau before, was also not available to play at the Perak
Open in Ipoh.
Zhao Kapow did manage to take Patrick Lau the furthest that he has been in
a tournament outside of Singapore, the semifinals against Olympic silver
medalist Cheah Soon Kit and temporary partner Wong Choon Hann. (Patrick Lau
had previously made it to the men's doubles semifinals of the Brunei Open in
1995 with Tan Sian Peng on a walkover when their quarterfinals opponents were
not able to play. - Editor). In the first round, Zhao and Lau waltzed over
Phoon Tik Min and Frederik Khong of Perak 15-2 and 15-2. In the second round,
the China-Singapore duo beat Troy Chandra and Kamri Suroto of Penang 15-5 and
Zhao Kapow and Patrick Lau then downed Malaysian internationals Cheah Soon
Thoe and Chang Kim Wai in the quarterfinals 15-11 and 15-3.
In the semifinals, Zhao and Lau gave Cheah and Wong, the top-seeds, the
toughest match the two had had in the tournament. The former world champion
and partner lost the first game 6-15 to the Malaysians and then took the
second 15-9. In the third, Cheah's power was too much specially for the young
Singaporean Patrick Lau, and the Malaysians won 15-4.
Will the world see more of Zhao Kapow, regarded by many badminton experts as
one of the most talented badminton players ever? Perhaps the Singapore
badminton association and the 31-year old Zhao will take a closer look at this
good showing in Ipoh and decide that Zhao should play some more tournaments
with the younger Singapore players, although the Chinese badminton association
will have to give Zhao a release to compete internationally under the
Singapore banner. Perhaps. Perhaps not.
COPYRIGHT 1997 by NEW SHUTTLENWS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.