PETALING JAYA: What a close shave it was for Malaysian badminton at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
They fell short of their three-gold medal target but fortunately, rose to the occasion to finish strongly.
Thanks to Lee Chong Wei and Chow Mei Kuan-Vivian Hoo, who delivered the golds in men’s singles and women’s doubles respectively, Malaysia surpassed the Glasgow outing with a 7-5-12 medal haul.
Malaysian badminton also bagged a silver in mixed team and two bronzes from Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles).
Malaysia scraped through this time but signs are evident that their supremacy is waning even among the Commonwealth nations.
India made their strong presence felt by inflicting pain where it hurt most for Malaysia – by winning the mixed team gold.
It’s no secret that India have been boasting with good singles players of late but now they showed they have depth with improved doubles pairs too under the guidance of former Malaysian doubles head coach Tan Kim Her.
And for the first time, India emerged as the overall champions with a medal haul of 2-3-1.
England have always been Malaysia’s close challengers and this time, they did better by finishing ahead of Malaysia with 2-2-2.
Malaysia settled for the third place with 2-1-2.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria rightfully pointed out that the other countries have stepped up.
“What happened in Gold Coast is a reflection of the latest development in badminton – others are better than us,” said Norza bluntly.
“The English and Indians played with guts and displayed strong fighting spirit ... they fight back when they are trailing.”
So, it’s back to the drawing board for Malaysia to prevent the national team from suffering a total collapse.
BAM will not get to hide behind Chong Wei anymore as he has declared that it was his last Games.
Can the back-up singles Lee Zii Jia, Lim Chi Wing, Iskandar Zainuddin Zulkarnain, Leong Jun Hao and Cheam June Wei defeat players such as K. Srikanth, H.S Prannoy and the long list of Indians, who will show up at the next Games?
Sadly, it’s a difficult question to answer and national singles head coach Datuk Misbun Sidek has a lot of work ahead of him.
It’s obvious that Malaysia are struggling in terms of consistency following the unexpected early defeats of top seeds Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and Goh Soon Huat-Shevon Lai Jemie (mixed doubles).
They have done well in the past and it’s up to the coaches to give them the best support to restore their confidence ahead of two major tournaments – Thomas-Uber Cup Finals in Bangkok, Thailand, in May and the Asian Games in Indonesia in August.
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