Monday, August 15, 2011

Malaysian Sports - When Is Ever The Right Time?

I just watched the BWF badminton world championships singles final between China's Lin Dan and our own Datuk Lee Chong Wei. Chong Wei came within a whiskers of winning the championships for the first time for himself and for Malaysia. In fact, he had two match points but characteristically he failed to make it against his nemesis.

Sunday StarSports (14th Aug 2011)
That is the trouble with our athletes. They do not have the mental strength to to see through a game or match. Whenever they are within a chance to wrap up game or match, they get excited, play hurriedly or freeze.

But the reason why I am writing this post is because of what a Sunday Star newspaper sports columnist wrote in her column.

She suggested that now is not the right time to break up the doubles combination of Koo Kien Kiet and Tan Boon Heong because they are still Malaysia's best doubles prospects in the 2012 London Olympics even though they failed to shine in the just concluded badminton world championships in London.

When is ever the right time for Malaysian sports to do something meaningful? As far as I know, the right time has always been too late.

And as far as I am concerned, the Koo-Tan doubles combination should have been broken up a long time ago. The trouble is that when we did briefly try it we never stuck to it and they pair are still together.

In fact, Koo-Tan have not been performing well as a doubles pair for a number of years now.  That happened since that time a few years back when Koo Kien Kiet promised to go bald if they won a particular tournament, but Koo only went GI instead.

Just because the pair may still be Malaysia's best hope doesn't mean we should delay doing anything, even to the extent of breaking the combination now rather than later. What is the use of persisting with the pair if they can only go so far and not all the way. Time wasted is time lost.

Koo and Tan had their heydays when they burst into the world doubles badminton scene in the Doha Asian games in 2006 when they won the Asian games badminton doubles title in grand style.  They went on to conquer all before them in 2007, winning seven tournament titles.

Subsequently they have gotten from bad to worse. And they are not getting anywhere now.

The other problem with Malaysian athletes is that once they have won something and reached the top, they can't maintain their consistency and form and soon fade out.  Another example of this sad phenomenon was singles player Hafiz Hashim who won the All-England singles in 2002 when he was only 20, and promptly faded out with all the attention and hero worship heaped on him.

There is hardly a Malaysian athlete, with the possible exception of women squash player Datuk Nicol David, who does not fit this mould of success and fast fade out.  Lee Chong Wei cannot be considered a real exception because even though he has been the world's no 1 singles badminton player for the recent past years, this has been achieved largely because of  the absence of his nemesis Lin Dan in several past tournaments and also because Chong Wei  has yet to win any big tournaments like the world championships or the Olympics.

3 comments:

  1. Firstly, the reason Koo and Tan are still together as a team is probably because of the lack of talent in reserve. Do Malaysia really have another doubles pair who could do better?

    Secondly, referring to Hashim who won early in his career and then faded out, perhaps Malaysians, like English football fans, raise their expectations way too high, creating far too much pressure on their athlete.

    Regarding Chong Wei, I was a critic of his for many years, due to his rubbish performances against Lin Dan in a succession of humiliating defeats to him. However, I think Lee Chong Wei is a world-class player, he beat Lin Dan well in the last big tournament, and as you mentioned, came within a whisker of beating him again last night.

    It just wasn't his day yesterday. It's the same in tennis with Nadal and Federer. One or two crucial points can turn a match in either's favour. We shouldn't get on Chong Wei's back too much over his latest defeat to Lin Dan.

    And remember, Chong Wei has no other challenges within Malaysian badminton to help him push on and improve. No other players from Malaysia who can provide competition for him.

    Sports needs to be re-emphasized in schools and given proper time and training while children are still young.

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  2. Lin Dan is in the company of numerous good Chinese badminton players, keeping him on his toes and sharp, fighting for his place. Chong Wei just doesn't have that national support and competitiveness.

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  3. Duncan, the trouble with Malaysian sports is that we are afraid of change. We may not currently have another pair who are of the same standing of Koo-Tan, but we need to blood new pairs as soon as possible and not leave it until too late. We do actually have a pair or two who should be encouraged to take part in as many tournaments as possible. Chong Wei is a good player no doubt but it is quite pointless being nearly there whenever he faces Lin Dan. A true champion should be able to beat his opponent consistently and not lose consistently. Unfortunately, out of some 25 encounters Chong Wei only managed to get the better of Lin Dan on 8 occasions. I agree, Chong Wei does not have good singles players here to give him the needed sparring. However, a true champion should be able to overcome all disadvantages. Federer is an excellent tennis great, perhaps the best or one of the best ever, but I think age is catching up with him and maybe motivation is another problem because when you have consistently won everything there is to win year and year out, motivation becomes a little bit more difficult. Nadal is not only suffering from some injury but early burn-out. In fact, pundits had already predicted this. The tennis circuit is gruelling, and if you play at furious pace at an early age, injury and early burn-out are a likely outcome.

    ReplyDelete

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