** This NEW SHUTTLENWS report is presented by YANG YANG BADMINTON PRODUCTS and their USA agents, CHIN SPORTS ( 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 15-9.

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.