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Expose Youngsters to the Big-Time, Says Lee

Beaten Japan Open finalist Lee Chong Wei has joined the chorus of Malaysian players urging the national governing body to send more junior players to major international tournaments.

Lee, beaten by Indonesia's Sony Dwi Kuncoro in the Tokyo final, said he felt envious when he saw the Chinese contingent at the Japan Open last week.

He said that while he was the only Malaysian men's singles player capable of making an impact in the tournament, China boasted some talented youngsters who ably took the place of the country's missing stars.

World number two and Olympic champion Lin Dan, along with leading compatriots Chen Jin and Bao Chunlai, decided to skip the Japan Open to rest after the Olympics.

Lee urged to Badminton Association of Malaysia to follow China and expose the country's back-up players to top-class tournaments.

He was quoted in the Malaysian media as saying: "Just look at China. After the Olympic Games, they decided not to send their top players but they took the opportunity to send several youngsters to the Japan Open.

"They are already planning for the future. This exposure will do a world of good for the youngsters.

"South Korea, Denmark and Indonesia also sent their youngsters to the Japan Open. But for Malaysia, I am here all alone. It would have been good if some of the youngsters were here."

Recently, Malaysia's former Olympic bronze medallist Rashid Sidek, also called for the inclusion of younger players in senior tournaments.

Rashid is coach of the 2010-2012 squad of juniors who are being prepared for the 2010 London Olympics.

He is soon expected to be announced as the new head national coach but said that if Malaysia are to match the major nations such as China and Indonesia, the youngsters must be blooded much earlier than they are now.

Among the China youngsters who took part in the Japan Open were Qiu Yanbo, whom Lee beat in the quarter-finals, and Lu Yi, who also reached the last eight.

Other Chinese players included Zhu Weilun and Gong Weijie. However, where China really made an impact was in the women's singles, with 20-year-old Wang Yihan winning the title.

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