BAM set to endorse qualified shuttler to Basel






A close watch: BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria (left) and Lee Chong Wei watching the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil last month. — Bernama

A close watch: BAM president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria (left) and Lee Chong Wei watching the semi-finals of the Malaysian Open at the Axiata Arena in Bukit Jalil last month. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Shuttlers Lee Zii Jia and Liew Daren can heave a huge sigh of relief.

Neither of them will have to make way for Lee Chong Wei for the World Championships in Basel, Switzerland from Aug 19-25.

Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria said that the national body are likely to endorse all the Malaysian shuttlers who qualified based on the world rankings released on April 30.

The 36-year-old Chong Wei, now undergoing treatment for nose cancer, did not make the cut as he has slipped to No. 115 while Zii Jia and Daren qualified on merit as the world No. 21 and No. 24 respectively.

A country can only have a maximum of two players if both of them are in the top 150 in the world rankings.

A wildcard could have saved BAM and the three shuttlers from an awkward situation, but the Badminton World Federation (BWF) confirmed on Monday that there will be no wildcard this year.

BAM can still enter Chong Wei at the expense of either Zii Jia or Daren because the national body have the prerogative to decide who they want to send.

However, Norza indicated that BAM are unlikely to drop any qualified players to accommodate Chong Wei, whose return to competitive action is still uncertain.

“I will leave the matter to the coaching and training committee (CNT) but we will likely allow all the players who have qualified to play,” said Norza when met at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) yesterday.

“As we know, Chong Wei is not part of the list and he is still working on his fitness.

“We have also spoken about when would be an appropriate time – in regards to his return to competition, and I believe we will be discussing more about his plans moving forward soon.

“The priority for Chong Wei now is for him to recover from his ailments, so let’s focus on that first.

“Once his doctor gives the green light, then he will play, otherwise we will discuss about other plans.”

Since he made his debut in the 2005 edition at Anaheim, United States with a bronze medal, Chong Wei had not missed a single world meet until last year.

He was diagnosed with an early stage nose cancer a month before the Nanjing world meet in August, where he was slated to face Frenchman Brice Leverdez.

In the Glasgow edition in 2017, Chong Wei lost to Leverdez in the first round, marking his worst-ever outing in 10 appearances.

Chong Wei is now almost certain to end his career without a world title. He finished runner-up thrice – to Lin Dan in 2011 and 2013 and Chen Long in 2015.

Chong Wei also reached the final in 2014 in Copenhagen, Denmark where he lost to Chen Long but was later stripped of his silver medal for a doping violation.