KUALA LUMPUR: Hope for the best and prepare for the worst.
Singles shuttler Soong Joo Ven is taking it all in his stride after learning that his days in the national team are numbered.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching and training chairman Datuk Ng Chin Chai plan to downsize the squad by keeping only two singles players and pairs in the elite squad in all five departments.
The back-up squad will comprise only players age 21 and below.
Besides Joo-Ven, also in danger of being dropped from the current 11-man singles’ department headed by Datuk Misbun Sidek, are the 22-year-old Soo Teck Zhi, Chong Yee Han (23) and Lim Chi Wing (23).
Joo Ven said he was expecting the worst after a training session yesterday.
“My teammates and I are aware of it, although the coaches didn’t bring it up,” said Joo Ven, the world No. 80.
“We’re not sure what’s in store for the seniors, so we just carry on with the training as usual.
“There’s no point worrying about what you can’t control. I hope for the best but I’m preparing for the worst too.”
Joo Ven said it was not the end of the world even if he was dropped as he would follow in the footsteps of former internationals Liew Daren and Chong Wei Feng by turning professional.
“I intend to continue my badminton career as an independent player if I’m no longer needed. Time is on my side and I can start all over again,” said Joo Ven.
“I may approach Liew Daren to guide me on that. National team or not, you’re still representing Malaysia.”
Despite enjoying an illustrious junior career, Joo Ven has struggled to make an impact in the senior ranks.
He best achievement was only a runner-up finish at the 2016 Scottish Open.
This is in stark contrast to Japan’s Kento Momota, whom Joo Ven lost to at the 2012 Asian Junior Championships final.
Momota, also 23, has achieved a career-best world No. 2 as well as becoming a one-time Thomas Cup and four-time Superseries winner.