KUALA LUMPUR: Singles shuttler Liew Daren is back in the good books of the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) following his fighting displays at the back-to-back Opens in Singapore and Indonesia.
And BAM’s high performance director Datuk James Selvaraj wants Daren to rub shoulders more rigorously with world number one Lee Chong Wei to pick up more good traits from the latter for further self-improvement.
In fact, Daren is now working closely with Chong Wei to provide quality sparring ahead of the World Championships, which will be held in London from Aug 8-14. Daren will also follow Chong Wei for the centralised training at the Bath University from July 27-Aug 4.
James said that he had once given up hope on Daren after the latter’s uninspiring performances at this year’s Malaysia Open. But Daren has regained his confidence after pushing former world champion Taufik Hidayat to the brink, before losing to him in both the opening rounds of the Singapore and Indonesia Opens.
“He has improved of late. He pushes himself during training sessions and also did well to make Taufik sweat before losing. He needs to sharpen some of his strokes. And I have asked coach (Teh) Seu Bock to get him close with Chong Wei so that he can emulate our country’s top shuttler to become a better player.
Daren is one of the three second stringers left in the elite team following the retirement of Tan Chung Seang. The other two are Chan Kwong Beng and Chong Wei Feng.
Daren will take part in the Kedah Open from July 13-17 and a good showing will prove that his performances at the Singapore and Indonesia Open were not flukes.
He is seeded fourth and players in his half are World Championships-bound Wong Choong Hann, Kwong Beng and Chun Seang. The top seed and hot favourite is Chong Wei.
Besides the assessment on Daren, James also gave his analysis on the contrasting performances of Chong Wei and Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong in his report, which was submitted to the BAM’s coaching and training committee on Saturday.
Chong Wei nailed the Indonesia Open title but Kien Keat-Boon Heong crashed out in the quarter-finals and the defeat had put a damper in the duo’s preparation for the World Championships.
“Chong Wei is playing exceptional badminton now but we do not see the same urgency, as far as winning is concerned, among the elite players in the men’s doubles department. I have suggested that we put a time frame for them to buck up or else, we have to move on with others,” he said.
“Both Koo and Tan will undergo conditioning training for the next six weeks leading to the world championships. Focus will be on skill work and also their physical fitness and we want to do our best to motivate them ahead of the world meet,” he said.
Apart from giving his input on the elite players progress at the recent Indonesia Open, James also shared his findings after having spoken to a few top figures from other badminton nations – especially Indonesia, India and Thailand.
In fact, he visited Indonesia’s national training centre in Cipayung to learnt on how Indonesia conduct their training programme for their back-up and elite shuttlers. He came out impressed with the team unity and camaraderie.
He said that it was important for Malaysia to have a well equipped training centre and he hopes that the BAM would get moving on their plans to set up a new national training centre off the Kesas Highway in Awan Besar.