Back-up shuttlers may replace regulars in Vietnam SEA Games

On a bigger mission: Lee Zii Jia will be busy with the World Championships in Huelva, Spain, from Nov 29-Dec 5 next year.

PETALING JAYA: The back-up shuttlers have to take over the mantle for Malaysia in the Vietnam SEA Games from Nov 21-Dec 2 next year.

The seniors, Lee Zii Jia and Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik, are unlikely to defend their men’s singles and men’s doubles titles in Hanoi as it clashes with the World Championships in Huelva, Spain, from Nov 29-Dec 5.

And the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) would most likely count on the youngsters to keep the nation’s flag flying.

The onus is now on BAM to get their back-up shuttlers ready for the task to build on the success achieved from the Philippines Games last year.

A full-strength Malaysian side pulled off one of the best outings in the SEA Games by claiming three golds out of the four finals they entered in Philippines.

The other gold was won by S. Kisona in the women’s singles.

Malaysia also bagged two silvers and five bronzes to narrowly pip Indonesia (3-2-2) for the overall title in badminton at the Games.

The 3-2-5 medal haul marked the shuttlers’ best outing in 44 years when Malaysia last clinched three individual gold medals at the 1975 Games in Bangkok.

BAM secretary Datuk Kenny Goh said it is their tentative plan to throw the youngsters into the fray at next year’s SEA Games. But it will depend on any changes to the Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournament calendar in 2021.

“We are considering sending the back-up players for the SEA Games. It also depends very much on who has qualified for the world meet. The SEA Games remain an important agenda for BAM knowing the expectations will be high after the shuttlers returned with three golds last year.”

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