PETALING JAYA: Former great Ong Ewe Hock is pained by the gulf in standard between Malaysia’s singles shuttlers and their opponents of other nations.
No player carried the national flag for the first time in the women’s singles in the Malaysian Open that ended on Sunday while Malaysia’s wait for a men’s singles champion besides 12-time winner Lee Chong Wei continued.
If not for the relatively better showing by the doubles, Malaysia’s challenge would have been wiped out earlier.
“My heart ached when I saw the quality of our singles players compared to the standard displayed by the players from other countries,” said Ewe Hock, who won the home tournament 21 years ago.
“We didn’t even have one woman singles player in the fray.
“Honestly, we are left behind in the singles – both women and men. The quality of the competition in the women’s singles is so high that I’m not sure whether our batch of players are ever going to match it.
“We have a lot of catching up to do in the men’s singles too. Other countries have more than one player that they can count on. If one loses, another steps up.
“We used to depend on Lee Chong Wei and now, Lee Zii Jia. Our younger ones have the talents but I’m just worried that we will continue to be in the chasing pack unless some changes are done.”
Ewe Hock has been championing the cause for a revamp in the training system for the longest time.
“I’m sorry for repeating myself. The system in training has to change ... together, we have to find a solution.’’
Ewe Hock, however, was more lenient towards the doubles players. National No. 1 and Tokyo Olympic Games bronze medallists Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani went down in the semi-finals after strong starts.
“Their standard is already there. Our doubles players are on the right track. The competition is so close in the doubles,” said Ewe Hock.
“I believe, with a little more confidence and tweaking in their tactical game, these pairs can achieve more,” he said.
While there were no titles to show, there were winners at Axiata Arena – the home fans. For the first time in many years, even the first-round action saw a full house at the stadium.
The fans also turned up in full force on the final day. Hopefully, our players will repay the support of the home fans with a better showing at the Malaysian Masters starting today at the same venue with the qualifying round.