Just a win­ner af­ter Chong Wei will do for now

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LEE Chong Wei has been noth­ing but spec­tac­u­lar and on Sun­day ce­mented his name as one of the best in the world when he clinched his fourth All Eng­land ti­tle af­ter reach­ing his sev­enth fi­nal in Birm­ing­ham.

And to the joy of ev­ery­one else, the 35-year-old shut­tler an­nounced that he will re­turn to de­fend his ti­tle in 2017 — which means Chong Wei will not re­tire this year.

The BA of Malaysia (BAM) have also pledged their sup­port to his cause and I’m cer­tain that many will be jump­ing on to the band­wagon in the com­ing months.

But how is this im­prov­ing the state of bad­minton in our coun­try?

Chong Wei’s first All Eng­land ti­tle was in 2010 and since then, no other Malaysian shut­tler has even made it to the men’s sin­gles fi­nal.

Play­ers like Chong Wei Feng and Liew Daren were never in the same league and quit the na­tional team out of frus­tra­tion.

They had the same coaches — Tey Seu Bock and Hen­drawan — as Chong Wei and I’m quite sure the same pro­gramme as well, but why are the rest of the Malaysian shut­tlers so far be­hind?

Look­ing at the cur­rent crop of men’s sin­gles, Malaysia has Iskan­dar Zulka­r­nain Zain­ud­din, reign­ing na­tional cham­pion Lim Chi Wing, for­mer Asian ju­nior cham­pion Soo Teck Zhi, Soong Joo Ven and Chong Yee Han — just to name a few.

Are they the next Chong Wei? I don’t know, but what I do know is none of them have even won a GP or GP Gold tour­na­ment yet.

How will these play­ers match up to the likes of Den­mark’s Vik­tor Ax­elsen or China’s Shi Yuqi who is only 21, and al­ready mak­ing waves on the in­ter­na­tional stage

They may not be their coun­try’s na­tional No 1, but they are al­ready top 10 in the world.

Chong Wei had pre­vi­ously said that it’s best to for­get about look­ing for a re­place­ment as it will take an­other 20-30 years and per­haps it’s bet­ter to fo­cus on pro­duc­ing play­ers in the mould of Hafiz Hashim or Wong Choong Hann.

Well, sorry to burst the bub­ble but I don’t see any­one com­ing close to even their stan­dards. So what will BAM do? My ex­pec­ta­tions are not high at all, I’m just won­der­ing if they can guar­an­tee that in the next two years, at least one of the shut­tlers from the ‘Spe­cial Project’ squad — other than Chong Wei — will win a GP or GP Gold tour­na­ment.

Af­ter all, they are train­ing and spar­ring with the World No 1, aren’t they?

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