Badminton writer Rajes Paul in The Star, Malaysia:
TODAY, Christians all over the world celebrate Easter – a day of resurrection and that is exactly what the world of badminton needs.
The badminton powerhouses, including Malaysia, are currently witnessing a dearth of talented men’s singles shuttlers.
The sport badly needs saviours to breathe life and inject excitement back into the men’s singles event once again.
In Malaysia, there is no one else except for world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei to carry the torch.
It’s the same elsewhere too.
In fact, do not be surprised if the battle for supremacy at the 2012 London Olympic Games boils down to the same old protagonists – Chong Wei, China’s Lin Dan, Denmark’s Peter-Gade Christensen and Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat!
That is the sorry state of world badminton.
Except for China, probably, the world is starved of new talents in men’s singles.
Indonesia are hoping to unearth more Taufiks; Denmark are scouring the land for another Christensen; and South Korea’s only hope for now is Park Sung-hwan.
China currently have several juniors waiting in the wings but they are not expected to soar as high as their former greats – like Yang Yang, Zhao Jianhua and Han Jian.
In Malaysia, Chong Wei’s almost total domination of the local scene for seven years speaks volumes of the dearth of talent at home.
If only we had three Chong Weis, Malaysia can surely look forward to winning the Thomas Cup Finals for the first time in 17 years on home turf next year.
But the gap between the back-up shuttlers and Chong Wei is so wide that surely something must be wrong with BAM’s coaching and training set-up.
They have good coaches and fantastic facilities; they adopt the Sports Science approach in training; the shuttlers are offered lucrative incentive packages; and there is the three-tier national training structure — elite, back-up elite and Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS).
The second echelon of players — Liew Daren, Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Chong Wei Feng and Tan Chun Seang — cannot be faulted for not trying their best. It is just that their best is simply not good enough.
Singles chief coach Rashid Sidek is at his wits’ end trying to figure out ways to help these players make the breakthrough.
What is wrong then?
In China, a 10-year-old child goes into full-time training.
In Malaysia, full-time training only begins after Form Five.
In China, the juniors spar with the cream of the crop daily. In Malaysia, this takes place only three times a week.
In China, all the provinces are involved in nurturing talents. In Malaysia, only Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Kedah, Johor and Sabah are active.
BAM president Datuk Nadzmi Mohd Salleh admitted they were facing a serious problem due to the lack of depth in the men’s singles department, saying: “We have to do something different. There has to be some drastic changes.
“Our juniors are improving in small steps but we want to see them making progress by leaps and bounds.
“We are seriously looking into this.”
The BA of Malaysia only have to take a few steps back to find the solution.
They need to go back to the basics and that is to focus on schools and grassroots programmes and kick the “sleeping” states into action.
The World Badminton Federation (BWF) too have a big role to play to get all their affiliates on the right track again because, for the last few years, there has been too much distraction with the power struggles within the set-up.
The world body will have a chance to get their act right when they hold their annual general meeting (AGM) on the opening day of the Sudirman Cup in Guangzhou, China, next month.
And, hopefully, the focus will be on how to raise up new stars rather than trying to ‘kill’ each other in the quest for power and control.