Penang shuttlers yearn for own hall

THE Penang badminton squad feel that the time has come for them to have their own hall to train and compete. 

Most of the other state badminton associations in the country already have their own training and competition ve-nues to implement their development programmes.  

The Kedah Badminton Asso-ciation were the latest to get their own badminton hall when the state government handed them the KBA Hall in Suka Menanti, which was built for the recent Sukma badminton competition. 

However, the Penang BA are still renting courts at the Pe-nang International Badminton Hall in Bukit Dumbar and the Young Way Badminton Aca-demy in Air Itam for training and competition purposes. 

“Right now, we are utilising rented premises and facing constraints at these venues. Sometimes, we do not get enough courts or cannot extend training time, as other people have already booked the courts or the hall. 

“As seen from recent results, Penang badminton is slowly but surely on the road of re-vival. And the need for a training place of our own has become greater now as we are catching up with the top badminton powerhouses like Kuala Lumpur and Selangor,” said training coordinator and Penang Sukma badminton team manager Tony Tan Gim Hin recently. 

After returning with a single bronze medal from the Sukma 2004 in Negri Sembilan, the Penang shuttlers made everyone sit up and take notice at the Kedah Games last month. 

CHAMPS IN THE MAKING:Hun Pin and Peng Soon(back to back)were the toast of the Penang team in the recent Sukma in Kedah where they stormed into the boys' doubles final.

The 14-year-old teen sensation Tee Jing Yi created history by becoming the youngest women’s singles finalist. The men’s doubles pair of Chang Hun Pin-Chan Peng Soon also overcame the odds to enter the final. 

Although the Penangites lost in both the finals, the final haul of two silver and three bronze medals is considered a very encouraging result. 

Prior to the Kedah Games, the last time a Penang shuttler featured in the Sukma badminton final was when current world number one Lee Chong Wei lost to Selangor’s Mohd Hafiz Has-him in the 2002 men’s singles final in Sabah. 

“The entire squad, with the exception of Hun Pin, will still be eligible for the under-21 badminton competition at the 2008 Sukma in Terengganu. This means that our players can only get better and it heralds a good future for Penang badminton,” added Tony. 

“We want to redeem the past glory of Penang badminton, but it is important that we work on improving on our achievements thus far. That is why the need for our own badminton hall is essential.” 

The improvement in Penang badminton’s fortunes started following changes in the Pe-nang BA administration under the helm of Datuk Liew Chook San in 2003. 

There was more emphasis on getting the schools, where a large pool of young players are based, involved. It was a change from the days when preference was given to badminton clubs and academies only. 

The co-operation between the Penang BA and the Penang Sports Council, who were in-strumental in hiring Chinese coach Deng Lei in 2004, was also important for the progress. 

Following Penang’s encouraging performance in Alor Star, Deng Lei’s contract as the Pe-nang Sukma team chief coach has been extended for two years with the aim of winning the elusive badminton gold medal in Terengganu. 

Local coaches Khoo Soon Lim, Teh Peng Huat, Choong Kah Tzun and Tony presently assist Deng Lei.