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Tuesday January 15, 2013

China coach Yongbo backs Malaysian for BWF president post

Cooling off: China's head coach Li Yongbo having a drink after playing golf at the Tropicana Golf and Country Resort yesterday. Yongbo is here for the Malaysian Open which begins tomorrow. - SAM THAM/The Star Cooling off: China's head coach Li Yongbo having a drink after playing golf at the Tropicana Golf and Country Resort yesterday. Yongbo is here for the Malaysian Open which begins tomorrow. - SAM THAM/The Star

CHINA head coach Li Yongbo has given the thumbs up for Datuk Seri Nadzmi Mohd Salleh to be the president of the Badminton World Federation (BWF).

Yesterday, the 50-year-old Yongbo, who is here for the Maybank Malaysian Open, said Nadzmi could make a difference to the sport with his experience and passion for the game.

Nadzmi, who is the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president, is contemplating going for the BWF job during the world body’s election in May. President Dr Kang Young-joong of South Korea has decided not to contest for the post.

“Nadzmi is a good choice. He has the clout and credentials to increase the popularity of the sport to a wider base. I believe he can also improve the hectic schedule in world badminton.

“He has been in the badminton circle for many years and is supportive of the game,” said Yongbo, after playing a round of golf at the Tropicana Golf and Country Resort here yesterday.

“Our sport has the potential to be popular beyond the Asian and European region and we need to aggressively promote it.”

Yongbo said he had a bone of contention over the hectic tournament calendar and hoped to see the new president change the structure.

“There are just too many tournaments. We need to cut it down. I would suggest that we limit the number of competitions and increase the prize money. Better income will surely widen the participation of the players and motivate them even more,” he said.

The former Chinese maestro said the busy calendar was a major cause to early retirements and withdrawals involving Chinese players.

In the season opener, the South Korean Open in Seoul that ended on Sunday, Chen Long (men’s singles), Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng (men’s doubles) and Wang Yihan, Li Xuerui (women’s singles) retired because of injuries. In the women’s doubles match, Cheng Shu-Zhao Yunlei conceded a walkover to top seeds Yu Yang-Wang Xiaoli and it sparked rumours of match-fixing.

“We do not have any agenda behind our players’ retirements or withdrawals. They are sick and sometimes they carry injuries. In Super Series Premier events, all the top 10 players have to compete and most of our players are in the top 10. They have to travel and compete on a regular basis in so many tournaments,” said Yongbo.

“Sometimes, we pull them out even if there is a slight pain because we know if they push themselves, they can aggravate the injury. What can we do if the players do not feel comfortable to play? Most of the times, our action is misunderstood.

“Unless the tournament calendar is reviewed or changed, this cycle will only continue.”

When asked why he did not throw in his hat for BWF president post with his years of experience as a player, coach and administrator for almost three decades, Yongbo said: “I still enjoy spending time with the China team. They still need my services and there is still a lot to be done. I may consider it when I retire from the post as head coach. But then, one does not have to be a president to contribute. I will do my best to promote the game through the China team.”

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