KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia does not need to wait 10 to 15 years to produce another world-class player like Lee Chong Wei.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) president Datuk Seri Norza Zakaria has questioned national men’s head coach Misbun Sidek, who said that it will take a long time to produce another men’s singles player like Chong Wei.
“We should not wait that long to have another player like Chong Wei.
“We have all the world-class facilities and coaches, and we should be able to achieve that in a shorter frame of time.
“We should focus on producing another top player in five years,” said Norza.
“There was no academy and good facilities when Chong Wei started his playing career. But now we have the best facilities and the present players in national training should make better progress in tournaments.
“When Chong Wei was 21 years of age, his progress was a bit slow compared to the progress made by Lee Zii Jia.
“Zii Jia receives more attention from coaches and has more options to play in tournaments,” said Norza.
“There are a few young players in the training squad that the coaches need to focus on to produce another top class men’s singles player – players like Soong Joo Ven, Cheam June Wei and other young and up-and-coming players.
“A player’s seniority is not important – his performance is more important in tournaments. These young players should be going all out to perform well in tournaments,” said Norza.
He added that there is a one-year period for the national players to qualify for next year’s Tokyo Olympics and each of them should start to focus on the 10 tournaments that they will be playing in to achieve their dream of featuring in the Olympics.
“We’ll give these players the opportunity to play in the tournaments to qualify for the Olympics,” said Norza.
He added that Chong Wei’s retirement should be an inspiration to these young players to follow in his footsteps.
“Chong Wei always inspires his teammates by saying that to progress in sports, it depends on the individual itself. He said that the players must be strong mentally, be disciplined and have the right approach to achieve their dreams,” said Norza.
Norza, who chaired the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) executive council meeting yesterday, said they have endorsed Chong Wei’s appointment as the chef-de-mission for the Tokyo Olympics.
“Chong Wei has competed in most top multi-games and he’s the right person to be the chef-de-mission.
“Chong Wei will attend a chef-de-mission seminar in August for a briefing on the Games. At the moment, Chong Wei does not have an assistant to assist him in the Olympics as only a few athletes have qualified for the Games.
“We’ll decide on the assistant chef-de-mission based on the number of athletes who qualify for the Olympics,” said Norza.