The Asian Games men’s badminton squad will have all but Roslin Hashim and Hafiz Hashim making their debut but that is not an escape clause should they fail to win at least three silver in Doha.
The National Sports Council (NSC) revised the one-gold target in badminton to three silver after three members of the Doha 2006 programme — Choong Tan Fook, Lee Wan Wah and Chan Chong Ming — suffered a loss of form. They were replaced by Lin Woon Fui, Fairuzizuan Tazari and Tan Boon Heong who are all making their debut. The other newcomers are Lee Chong Wei, Kuan Beng Hong and Koo Kien Keat.
But chief coach Yap Kim Hock stressed inexperience will not be an excuse if Malaysia do not achieve the target.
Kim Hock even said the BA of Malaysia’s initial target of one gold still stands as the players will go all out to end a 36-year-old gold drought.
Except for Roslin, 30, we have a squad who are aged below 25 and most are playing in their first Games. However, inexperience will not be an excuse at all. In fact there will be no excuses if we fail, said Kim Hock.
I always want to take the positive and as far as I’m concerned, the ones going to Doha are our best players at the moment.
Kim Hock said the players were relieved that the official target of one gold has been revised to three silver but that did not mean they had given up on winning their first gold since 1970.
Malaysia won three gold medals in the 1970 Bangkok Asian Games. Punch Gunalan won the men’s singles gold and partnered Ng Boon Bee for the doubles gold.
Boon Bee also partnered Sylvia Ng for the mixed doubles gold.
The marked improvement shown by the Malaysians earlier this year gave some hope but their below par performances in the World Championships in Madrid in September raised doubts.
Malaysia had targeted the men’s doubles title and were also hopeful of good performances in the men’s singles, but ended up with nothing.
Also suffering a slump in form were veteran pair Tan Fook-Wan Wah and Chong Wei.
This prompted doubles coach Rexy Mainaky to drop Tan Fook-Wan Wah and give Woon Fui-Fairuzizuan a chance while Chong Ming also had to give way to 19-year-old Boon Heong.
Malaysia’s preparations suffered a further shock when Chong Wei was hurt in a road accident last week but he has since recovered.
On paper, the three silver should come from men’s singles, men’s doubles and the men’s team, said Kim Hock.
The players must assume responsibility. Minor issues like Chong Wei’s accident should not arise at all as he is targeted to achieve silver.
The last time Malaysia won silver was in Hiroshima 12 years ago through Cheah Soon Kit-Soo Beng Kiang.(nst.com.my/)