PETALING JAYA: Malaysia's future in badminton, especially in the men's singles, looks gloomy as indicated in the outcome of the World Junior Championships, which ended in Incheon on Saturday.
None of the Malaysians Mohd Arif Abdul Latif, Lim Fang Yang, Teo Kok Siang and Lok Chong Chieh cleared the early rounds.
China, South Korea and Indonesia had representatives in the boys' singles semi-finals with Korean Han Ji-hoon emerging as the champion, beating Indonesian Tommy Sugiarto, the son of former world champion Icuk, in the final.
The players, who did not show great promise at the World Juniors, will still be promoted to the Project 2010-12 under the charge of Rashid Sidek after they complete their Form Five studies at the end of the year.
In fact, the current batch of players under Rashid has yet to make any breakthrough in Open tournaments.
Although the process of churning out top players will take time, national chief coach Yap Kim Hock said that he was concerned with the quality of the singles players.
Currently, our pool of men's singles players is small. We do not see many youngsters challenging the seniors we now have. And in this recent World Juniors, we find Malaysia doing better in the doubles than in the singles, said Kim Hock.
I will propose to our management and Rashid to release several potential players to the national team by end of the year. We need more players to be exposed at the higher level of competition.
At the World Juniors, Malaysia's top performers were boys' doubles bronze medallists Lim Khim Wah-Mak Hee Chun. They went down to eventual champions Lee Yong-dae-Cho Gun-woo of South Korea in the semi-finals.
The hope was also high on second seed Lydia Cheah in the girls' singles but she crashed out in the fourth round.
The 16-year-old lanky shuttler, however, is talented and with time, she is set to be Malaysia's pride.
Meanwhile, South Korea, who won three of the five titles boys' singles and doubles and the mixed doubles showed that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.