Choong Tan Fook never made it to the Olympics podium as a player, but the former national doubles ace is hoping to see that dream realised through Tang Chun Man-Tse Ying Suet.
The Perak-born has been with the Hong Kong national set-up for more than a decade, being named their doubles head coach since 2014.
During this period, Choong has groomed Tang-Tse as the country’s top pair, representing their best hope to win a first-ever badminton medal at the Olympics.
“Of course they stand a chance [for a medal]. I think due to this pandemic, everyone stands a chance. Nobody can predict how the other pairs are going to fare because of the lack of tournaments.
“My advice to them is to always work and train hard. There is no key to success without hard work. It will be a competitive affair with China, Thailand and Japan pairs all looking to win.
“My players must do their part in Tokyo and give everything on the court,” Choong told Stadium Astro.
As a national shuttler, Choong formed a formidable combination with Lee Wan Wah and graced three editions of the Olympics – beginning with the 2000 edition in Sydney to the 2008 showcase in Beijing.
The pair came closest to a medal in 2000, but lost in the bronze medal match to South Korea's Ha Tae-kwon-Kim Dong-moon.
“We always lost in the rubber game at the Olympics, because we were not fit! We were also not mentally strong, and we lacked confidence.
“The Olympics is the biggest stage of all, and every player will be on top of their game with supreme levels of fitness.
“I keep stressing to my players the importance of being confident and strong mentally too. If you are not mentally ready, you will suffer,” he explained.
Tang-Tse had a memorable 2019 after bagging two titles at the Chinese Taipei Open and Korea Masters, while Tang also won the China Masters that year with Ng Tsz Yau.
This year, Tang-Tse played at both Thailand Opens but lost in the second round.
Nonetheless, the world number 13 pair comfortably qualified for the Olympics as the highest ranked national pair.