Coaches hit the gym to spar with Olympics-bound shuttlers

PETALING JAYA: Expect the national badminton coaches to look leaner and fitter when they accompany their players to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Due to lack of sparring partners, national coaches have been hitting the gymnasium to provide quality sparring for the Tokyo-bound shuttlers at the Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) over the last few weeks.

In fact, in Tokyo, none of the teams are allowed to bring additional players, thus leaving the coaches and teammates to spar among themselves.

Players who have qualified for the Olympics are Lee Zii Jia (men’s singles), Soniia Cheah (women’s singles), Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (men’s doubles), Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean (women’s doubles) and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles).

They will be accompanied by all head coaches Hendrawan, Indra Wijaya, Flandi Limpele, Chan Chong Ming and Chin Eei Hui respectively. Eei Hui has been selected instead of Paulus Firman as she is in charge of the independent pair Peng Soon-Liu Ying.

The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann (pic) will lead the badminton group as the team manager.

Choong Hann admitted that the coaches were also going the extra mile in training over the past four weeks to prepare for the team’s departure on July 17. The Olympics is from July 23-Aug 8.

“The coaches now are equally busy as the players. They are in the gymnasium and doing all kinds of activities to keep fit. All of us are practically on the court, training together with the players,” said Choong Hann.

“Due to the Covid-19 situation, the rules has been tightened. We are unable to bring sparring players. We have to make do with the team we have and work together. This applies to all the other countries too.

“We will be in Tokyo five days before the official opening ceremony. We will head straight to the Games Village, we have been given the permission to train at the practice hall.”

Choong Hann admitted that their last lap of training was crucial.

“All the players are in the bubble system right now. They don’t get to see their family or friends, in fact, this has been the case for the last four weeks,” he said.

“It’s not easy but the players are giving their best in training. Of course, some do have their down days, some miss their families, some go through emotional challenges...all these have to be managed. The priority now is the Olympics,” he added.

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