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Bend It Like Bedi

Monday, 23 May 2016 | MYT 8:57 AM

The Great Danes reign

Danish players celebrate after beating Indonesia in the Thomas Cup final

Danish players celebrate after beating Indonesia in the Thomas Cup final

Until two years ago, only China, Indonesia and Malaysia had won the Thomas Cup since its inception in 1949.

In the finals two years ago, Japan defeated Malaysia for their first ever title in what can be considered the World Cup of badminton.

This year, Denmark emerged champions by beating Indonesia 3-2 in Kunshan, China.

Before the final began, I had a discussion with an avid badminton fan in my office. While I clearly stated my support for Denmark he said that badminton should remain an “Asian-dominated sport.”

He then changed his mind and said that we should not be narrow-minded and should be happy that the sport is spreading all over the world.

While Denmark is only winning the Thomas Cup for the first time, they are one of the powerhouses of the sport.

Poul-Erik Høyer Larsen won the singles gold medal at the 1996 Olympics while Morten Frost aka "Mr Badminton” spent 12 years in the top three of the world rankings during the 1980s.

True fans of the game's history will also recall Erland Kops who won seven All England singles and four All England men's doubles titles between 1958 and 1969.

In short, they have a significant history in the sport. So I’m quite happy that they have finally gone all the way to show their strength in depth to win the competition.

Even before the tournament started, I thought that China would win it easily but they stumbled in the quarterfinals.

And Malaysia should have taken advantage of that.

I’m really unhappy about Malaysia’s narrow loss to Denmark in the semi-finals. When we were 2-0 up, I was already thinking of the 1992 Thomas Cup victory, our last one.

I still have vivid memories of watching the game with my family back in the living room of our house.

When we were on the front foot in both the third and fourth games, I thought it would be a given. How wrong I was.

On another day, we could have beaten Denmark. But I don't see that happening in two years when Lee Chong Wei who is our almost one sure point will have retired.

We don’t seem to have any succession plan to Lee with the next best singles Iskandar Zulkarnain not to that level yet.

Iskandar had performed reasonably  well and if he improves several aspects of his game can be relied on.

He seemed a bit too over enthusiastic in his semi-final game, probably causing him to lose focus. He can overcome this problem.

But aside from him, no one else seems to be in the picture.

Our doubles pairs seem to be flaky and we can't really be hoping on Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong anymore. Please no!

The next edition of the Thomas Cup should be for exposure purposes for the youngsters.

Only in four or six years time minimum should we hope for any chance of success.

Once Chong Wei goes, I foresee a barren spell for Malaysia in badminton for a while.

At least in the women's court we have youngster Goh Jin Wei, 16, who has all the attributes to make it in the big leagues.

In the Uber Cup match against Spain, she gave world No. 1 Carolina Marin a good fight before losing 18-21, 22-20, 16-21 in 77 minutes.

Let's hope more gems like Goh can be discovered and nurtured so that we can get past that 1992 success.

For the Badminton Association of Malaysia, it is going to be an uphill battle. Like they say, the ball, or in this case the shuttle, is in its court.

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