KUALA LUMPUR: Former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei will go for this year’s World Championships in Jakarta from Aug 10-16 after all.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) dropped Chong Wei Feng, 27, to accommodate world No. 46 Chong Wei although the latter did not qualify on merit.
Wei Feng and former world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli, 22, made the cut based on their world rankings at No. 31 and No. 41 respectively.
BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff said that they picked Chong Wei to feature in his ninth world meet because he has the potential to win it.
“Just look at the way he played in the Sudirman Cup (against Lee Dong-keun of South Korea in a opening Group D tie. Malaysia eventually won 3-2). He was exceptional,” said Tengku Mahaleel after chairing an emergency exco meeting at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara.
“We strongly believe that he has a better chance to do well at the World Championships.”
The Sudirman Cup was Chong Wei’s first tournament after serving an eight-month ban over a doping violation committed at the last year’s World Championships in Copenhagen.
On the decision to drop Wei Feng and retain the independent shuttler Zulfadli, Tengku Mahaleel said that the association believe in giving younger players opportunity to prove themselves.
“Our system in BAM has changed. We believe in giving younger players more opportunities. In the ongoing Sudirman Cup and the SEA Games, our technical director Morten Frost chose a group of young and senior players. He gave players like Lim Yin Fun, Cheam June Wei and Goh Jin Wei the chance to play in major tournaments.
“Wei Feng is an older player and he has played in two previous World Championships. We felt that the younger Zulfadli will benefit more by playing in his first World Championships,” he added.
Wei Feng will still be part of BAM’s big plan to qualify for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.