PETALING JAYA: Only four countries – China, Indonesia, South Korea and Denmark – had won gold in badminton at the Olympics before the 2016 Rio edition.
Japan and Spain joined the club after securing their breakthrough five years ago.
And this time in Tokyo, it was Taiwan who emerged as a force to be reckoned with after Lee Yang-Wang Chi-lin emerged as the men’s doubles champions to deliver their nation a first gold in badminton.
While others keep winning the elusive gold in every edition, Malaysia continue to return home disappointed from every Olympics without having a taste of the golden glitter.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) coaching director Wong Choong Hann admitted that the national shuttlers were still playing catch up but he was confident that his charges would continue to close the gap on the sports’ heavyweights.
Choong Hann is optimistic of Malaysia’s future after Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik’s bronze medal effort in their Olympics debut in Tokyo and Lee Zii Jia’s All-England triumph earlier in March.
“They are our future players and they continue to show maturity. I believe they will come good to contend for gold in Paris 2024,” said Choong Hann.
“Are we there yet? No, we’re not. There’s still a gap, but we’re definitely closing in. We are working very hard everyday to narrow the gap. And we’re closing in fast.
“We have built from scratch since 2016 with these batch of young shuttlers who are now able to shoulder the responsibility. At the rate these players are progressing, we believe that they will definitely stand a better chance in future.”
Choong Hann admitted that he was a relieved man after Aaron-Wooi Yik claimed the sole medal to help the national team achieve their one-medal target as the last time they returned empty-handed was at the 2004 edition.
“I was worried at one point but I guess, it’s just normal,” said Choong Hann. “Target is good as it pushes us to work harder towards it. I have faith that if we continue with our preparation, we will bring glory.”