When I was still in my twenties, I used to play a lot of badminton. I would play between 3 to 4 times a week without fail. I loved the game from my schooling days. But then I injured my right knee. A doctor I consulted put it quite prettily—the problem was mainly due to wear and tear. According to him, a possible remedy was to operate on the knee. It was not a very intrusive procedure; he used the layman term "keyhole" surgery. But that would've put me out of action for at least 6 months.
I reckoned that even if I decided for the surgery, I wouldn't have been able to play the singles (which I loved) for very much longer beyond the age of 30. And since I did not suffer any pain if I stayed away from badminton, I opted against the surgery. And that was pretty much the end of my hobby.
Since then, I've given up badminton totally. But the good news is that I've embarked on other hobbies which are also interesting and enjoyable. However, every now and then I still follow the news about the sports of badminton, though I must admit that these days I'm very much out of touch of the badminton world.
I had an interesting chat with a friend at a coffee shop recently. We were talking about our Malaysian doubles pair, Koo Kien Kiat and Tan Boon Heong. Normally, I am not a big fan of the doubles games in badminton. But the Koo-Tan pair is a bit of an exception because they have achieved quite a big feat in the world scene. They have been the world top-ranked pair, and if I am not much mistaken, they still are now.
I was quite amused by my friend's opinion about this Malaysian pair. He said, they were supposed to be the top pair in the world, not only in terms of ranking, but in real terms such as being the unbeatable pair the world over. The fact is this pair haven't been winning a lot of tournaments in recent years. They've been performing quite impressively to reach many advanced stages in tournaments all over the world (hence the high ranking). Yet they lost more times than winning.
In particular, Koo Kien Kiat did very well in 2006 and 2007. He seemed to take the badminton world by storm back then. He won quite a number of tournaments and swiftly rose to the top of the world ranking.
Koo is quite a fashionable young man. I can still remember seeing his coloured hair, and I said "wow!" to myself. Apparently, his hair meant a lot to him. But then one day, prior to a game in the finals, he made a stunning announcement. When he made that announcement, he was on an unbelievable winning streak. They looked so invincible, they practically bulldozed their way over all the top pairs in the world to win one game after another in succession! He said if he could win that game too, and hence the tournament, he would shave his head!
Then indeed they emerged champion for that tournament. And I think the whole of Malaysia was waiting to see his bald head. Days passed, still nothing. Weeks passed, still nothing. In the end, he cut his hair very, very short, but not bald. When asked why didn't he keep his promise, he said he had some kind of skin problem which prevented him to shave his head totally. I was thinking, if he knew that he had such skin problem, then why make that promise in the first place? Was that some kind of media stunt?
Anyway, if anyone had noticed, they went more or less downhill from then on. Of course they still won some more tournaments after that, but somehow lost the momentum which appeared so fantastic. From such a formidable pair, they suddenly turned into something quite at par with the other strong players from other countries.
My friend was saying that Koo was tempting the God when he made the promise to shave his head. And when the God gave him that victory, he did not keep his end of the bargain. And so he was punished. My friend said it's a good lesson—never tempt the God by making a promise you're not willing to keep!
Last week, Koo, together with his partner, Tan, reached the finals of yet another major tournament. And again they failed to win that tournament. I'm not a superstitious person, but maybe there is some truth in what my friend said, huh?