Bring back the gold, Azalina challenges shuttlers


BY RAJES PAUL

BANGI: Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman Said has thrown a challenge to the badminton players to nail a gold medal in the Olympics. 

She went to the Uniten multi-purpose hall here yesterday after a post-Cabinet meeting to give moral support to the shuttlers before they leave for Athens on Sunday. 

“I am here with a message from the Malaysian government,” said Azalina. 

“We want you to create history in Athens and win the first gold medal for Malaysia. We have seen the bronze and silver medals from badminton in the past Olympics. Now, we want gold.” 

THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET: Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman telling the shuttlers to bring back the gold medal from the Athens Olympics when she met them at the Uniten Multipurpose Hall in Bangi Wednesday.- Starpic by Darran Tan.

She added that the badminton team had to prove that the sport was worth more support from the government. 

“Athens will be the benchmark. The badminton players must do well so that I will have justification to get financial backing from the government to make the sport even more popular in the country,” she said. 

Azalina has plans to raise the standard of local badminton coaches throughout the country for the better development of players at the grassroots level. 

On what would happen if the team fail to return with a gold medal, Azalina said: “Let’s not talk about failures at this stage. The players are prepared and let’s be positive about their chances.” 

Malaysia have a maximum representation of three players in the men’s singles – Wong Choong Hann, Lee Chong Wei and Mohd Roslin Hashim. 

The men’s doubles pairs are Choong Tan Fook-Lee Wan Wah and Chan Chong Ming-Chew Choon Eng.  

The women’s pair in the fray in Athens are Chin Eei Hui-Wong Pei Tty. 

Malaysia’s best effort in the Olympics was a silver, won by the men’s doubles pair of Cheah Soon Kit-Yap Kim Hock at the 1996 Atlanta Games. 

Rashid Sidek was the men’s singles bronze medallist in Atlanta and his brothers, Razif and Jalani, also took bronze in the men’s doubles when badminton made its Olympic debut in Barcelona in 1992. 

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