PETALING JAYA: Things are going south for the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM).
And nothing much is expected to change in 2015 with world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei facing a possible ban for a doping offence last August.
The national body suffered another humiliation at the National Grand Prix Finals, which ended in Kuala Terengganu on Tuesday. Their representatives used to wipe clean all the five titles at stake.
But not anymore as independent shuttlers strolled to the two most important crowns - the men’s singles and men’s doubles. It was the first time non-BAM shuttlers were triumphant in the two events in the history of the championships.
First, 2012 world junior champion Zulfadli Zulkiffli nailed his first national title by beating national back-up shuttler Lim Chi Wing 21-12, 21-15 in the final.
Then Mak Hee Chun-Tan Bin Shen, a scratch pair, rubbed salt into the BAM’s wound by scoring a 21-18, 21-15 win over national back-up pair Tan Wee Gieen-Teo Ee Yi in the men’s doubles final.
Although there have been several promising juniors coming through from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) over the years, their lack of progress at the senior stage is certainly worrying.
Youngsters like Chi Wing and Soong Joo Ven gave a good account of themselves during the tournament, but seniors Liew Daren, Goh Soon Huat and Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin – players with Thomas Cup and Asian Games experience – were a big letdown.
There is plenty of work for the BAM this year. They certainly need to put their house in order before they can put the country on the world badminton map.
The BAM have already lost two good women’s doubles players. Ng Hui Ern quit in November and her sister Hui Lin followed suit last week.
Hui Lin was highly critical of the BAM, blaming poor planning and the officials’ lackadaisical attitude for quitting.
National No. 2 Chong Wei Feng, who skipped the National GP Finals due to an ankle injury, admitted the atmosphere during training was not good.
“Hui Lin did a brave thing by speaking out all her grievances. There are still a lot of players who are unhappy. It’s just the fear of speaking up,” said Wei Feng.
“I’m still training under Rashid (Sidek) and (Tey) Seu Bock, but their contracts have not been renewed yet. Everything is uncertain right now and it filters down to the players.
“Although the BAM management is unstable now, we still have to focus on doing our best. For me, the focus is to improve on my ranking (No.33) in order to qualify for the 2016 Olympics,” added Wei Feng, whose next tournament is the Malaysian Masters in Kuching from Jan 13-18.