PETALING JAYA: Badminton is Malaysia’s top-performing sport at the Olympics having won eight (six silvers and two bronzes) out of the 11 medals.
And for the Tokyo Games, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) intend to return with a multiple medal haul just like five years ago at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
BAM coaching director Wong Choong Hann declared that the shuttlers are vying for “as many medals and the best colour possible”.
At Rio in 2016, Malaysian shuttlers ended up second best in three finals – Lee Chong Wei (men’s singles), Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles).“We have prepared the best we could and we definitely want the players to perform at their level best. Good results will only come with the best preparations, ” said Choong Hann.
“We want to win at least one medal. Of course, we want to win the medal with the best (possible) colour and certainly, the more medals we win, the better.”
With badminton having consistently delivered at least a medal since the Beijing 2008 edition, including the best-ever haul in Rio 2016, failure is certainly not an option for the shuttlers.
Still, Choong Hann did not rule out the possibility of the shuttlers returning empty-handed.
“Well, that could happen... I don’t know, ” admitted Choong Hann when asked on the prospect of returning without a medal from badminton.
“The Olympics have not started yet, so anything can happen in Tokyo.
“The best outcome is, of course, winning the gold medal and the worst is not winning anything.
“But for me, worrying too much at this point will not help.
“The most important thing is that we’re well prepared for the battle.”
Choong Hann himself was part of the squad that returned empty handed from the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 editions, the only two times where Malaysia failed to win a single medal since badminton was first introduced at the Barcelona Games in 1992.
Malaysia will be represented in all the five events in Tokyo where hopes are high on Lee Zii Jia (men’s singles), Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik (men’s doubles) and Peng Soon-Liu Ying (mixed doubles) to produce something special.
Women’s singles’ Soniia Cheah and women’s doubles’ Chow Mei Kuan-Lee Meng Yean are the other representatives forming the eight-member badminton squad.
The team will depart on July 17, accompanied by five coaches and three support service personnel.
Besides Choong Hann (team manager), the other four coaches for Tokyo are Hendrawan (men’s singles), Flandi Limpele (men’s doubles), Chan Chong Ming (women’s doubles) and Chin Ee Hui (mixed doubles).
Independent shuttler Soniia will look to Choong Hann or Hendrawan for guidance.