MALAYSIA’s badminton team failed in the Asian Games – and that has to be counted as the failure of the team, not any individual says former star Lee Chong Wei.
Playing the blame game and pointing fingers will not solve any problem, says the three-time Olympics silver medallist, who felt it was the lack of team spirit that led to Malaysia’s downfall in the first round of the team event in Hangzhou.
On Thursday, Malaysia went down 1-3 to South Korea with only Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik delivering a point.
All others – Lee Zii Jia, Ng Tze Yong and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi – slumped to defeats with uninspiring performances against lower-ranked opponents.
Independent shuttler Yew Sin was the team captain but his presence was hardly felt.
Chong Wei says it was time to find out why Malaysia lacked the sting in team performance compared to others.
“I’ve been observing the team events for some time now and I see that China, South Korea and Indonesia bring out something special during team events.
“There is a strong bond and their fighting spirit is exceptional,” said Chong Wei. “This is what is missing from our Malaysian team.
“I think, it’s not right to say that the singles players failed or the doubles. In a team event, if we win, we win together. If we lose, everyone takes the brunt of it.
Asked if bringing independent and Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) players together for team events was a mistake, Chong Wei disagreed.
“In football or in hockey, players come from different clubs for national duty. Where they come from is not the problem. It’s how much they give to the team when they come together. The team must come first, that is what matters.
Chong Wei feels the team unity had waned since the 2014 Thomas Cup Finals.
Then, Malaysia went down fighting to Japan 3-2 in the final.
“We came so close to winning that team title.
“I was the team captain and I know the team spirit was awesome. We all had one common goal – to win for the country,” he said.
“But over the last few years, it has declined. I’m not sure what caused this but it is something that need to be addressed. It’s not easy for players to focus on individual events for most of the year and then switch to team events at one competition.
Chong Wei said the role of team captain was also important.
“Besides having the right team leader to keep the team together, it is also important to have team building activities prior to major events,” he said.
Chong Wei has faith in new national coaching director Rexy Mainaky to build a strong team.
“Rexy is in charge now, and I know he is a good team player. Hopefully, we will be able to show the same fighting spirit like China, South Korea, Indonesia in future events,” he added.