Badminton Life

Interview with Hafiz Hashim

Date: 11/11/2011

Muhammad Hafiz Hashim born September 13, 1982 in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Malaysia is a Malaysian badminton player. He achieved worldwide fame when he won the Yonex All-England Open Badminton Championships in 2003.

Hafiz was coached by Misbun Sidek, the eldest of the Sidek brothers and national singles coach. He's the younger brother of former world#1 Roslin Hashim. Achievement:

- 2002 Commonwealth Games-Champion
- 2003 All England Open-Champion
- 2003 Dutch Open-Runner Up
- 2005 Thailand Open-Champion
- 2005 Swiss Open-Champion
- 2005 Dutch Open-Champion
- 2005 German Open-Runner Up
- 2005 Denmark Open-Runner Up
- 2005 Sudirman Cup-Champion(second division)
- 2006 Philippine-Open Champion
- 2009 India Open-Runner Up
- 2010 Commenwealth Games-Champion(mixed team)

1. What age did you start playing?

7 years old, from my dad who is an avid fan of badminton. 8 years old I was in the state team.

2. Was it your intention to be a professional player from the start?

Winning titles, be the best in the world. Bringing glory to the country.

3. When did you realize you were good enough to be a world beater?

18 years old.

4. How were you noticed at the national level?

Well, it's in the process. When I was 17 years old I won the National Circuit under 18 (MSSM). Then when I finished my high school at 17 years old, I went to a professional club, Nusa Mahsuri formed by the Legendary Sidek Brothers.

5. Which year was you drafted into the national squad?

When I was 19 years old I was drafted to the national squad to play big tournaments, like Commonwealth Games, Thomas Cup and etc. I'm still under banner of the professional club, Nusa Mahsuri. Not until year 2008, I was drafted to BAM.

6. Have you ever considered making a name in doubles?

At the beginning I've not thought of playing doubles as the main event. Now towards the end of my career, I'm considering playing doubles. This is what normally what singles player does, when they have not much result in single on the international stage. They'll switch to doubles. \

Just to name a few international players who switched to doubles and are making quite a big name for themselves, such as Cai Yun of China (4 times World Champion), Shoji Sato of Japan, Markis Kido of Indonesia (Olympic Champion), Joachim Fischer Nielsen of Denmark ( currently world number 3).

So in the future, if I don't have result in singles then I'll consider playing doubles and then if there's no result in double I'll consider retiring. At the moment, retiring is still not on my mind. I still have a lot of goal yet to be achieved.

7. Did any of your batch mates made the same grade as you? If not, what was the reason?

Current World number 1 Lee Chong Wei is the same batch as me. There are few who didn't have much success such as Yogendren, Sairul Amar Ayob and there's too many to list down who didn't even make it on the international scene. For the reason, well it's hard to say; probably they are not so lucky. Most of them have good commitment and discipline in training. Maybe they don't have the tournament talent to reach elite level.

Talent is mostly based in the mind. For example, the players who succeed in tournament only give 85 percent in training, where as the players who are not so successful gave 95 percent in training, but when it comes to tournament; the players who succeed give 95 percent, they play almost a perfect game, but when the player who don't really succeed they play only 50 percent of their potential. So at the end of the day, it's all mental. Training and commitment is fairly important. So does the mind set in tournaments.

8. What's your highest world ranking?

The highest, it would be #5

9. You currently under the banner of KLRC , how's life over there?

I'm currently happy with this new banner. It's more professional lifestyle, as it's more flexible where I decide on my training programme to succeed towards my goal. It's less pressure from under aspect but there's still pressure of performing well in tournaments.

10. How many years are you already on the scene?

18years old until now I'm 29 years old. 11 years.

11. On your playing career what's the highlight of your career?

One of the highlight would be the 2002 Thomas Cup Semi Final match against China. I played in the second singles against Bao Chun Lai, then the World Junior Champion and much established player than I am. I won that match, which on paper I was most likely to lose. That was a breakthrough in my career, being young player.

The second highlight, would be 2002 Commonwealth Games, I won the much more experienced Wong Choong Hann. I've never win him in any tournaments before that. On paper I was a major underdog.

Lastly the greatest highlight so far in my career would be the 2003 All England, being a champion was unbelievable. The route to winning this title is also exceptional, as I have to beat a few well known players such as Yong Hock Kin, Chen Yu of China and in the final, the clear favourite and world number 1 Chen Hong.

12. Which incident would you consider as a low point of your career?

Losing is the lowest point of my career, especially in the early rounds. Doesn't matter, in what tournament I've played. Another thing would be losing to an unknown player especially from un-established badminton nation. I feel tremendously upset, when the case of losing is not that these players played well, is when I played extremely under par.

13. What do you think of the new points scoring system?

21 point scoring format is faster in pace and it's not easy to win. The high intensity and pressure is there throughout the whole match. You got to keep on your toes all the time. If you just slightly lose the focus, you could lose the match as well. In my preference, I still prefer the old 15 points scoring system, as you get much more satisfaction.

14. Which player you admire at the start, both at the local and the international scene?

Well to be honest, there are no players I specifically admire at the start, but I still watch some matches. That's why I developed my own style of play. After high school, I admire Misbun Sidek because he's my coach.

15. As a player, what is your strength?

Attacking, skills and control

16. Which part of your game can be improved?

Physical strength, fitness and consistency.

17. Is it important to have a favourite stroke? What is yours then?

Yes of course, when a player is in trouble in a match; that is where he needs to use his favourite stroke to change the game around. The cross net is my favourite stroke.

18. Were you good in other sports as well or badminton was just 'it?

I do play soccer quite well but it's just for fun.

19. Can you name a few international players, current or retired, who you regard as best or famous for a specific technique or an area of skills?

I admire Lee Chong Wei because he's the world #1. He has the ability to stay at that position for a long time now, for almost 3 years to be exact. I admire his consistency. Second, Lin Dan for his character on court, mental strength and unpredictable. Taufik Hidayat for his strong wrist work and a talented player.

20. Who do you regard as the all time best player?

Lee Chong Wei of Malaysia. He's very consistent and committed. Lin Dan is great, but from my point of view he is unpredictable.

21. Who were your coaches during your international days?

Misbun Sidek, Rashid Sidek and currently Hady idris.

22. Can you spell out the difference in coaching styles from China, Malaysia, Denmark and Indonesia? What are their Strengths and Weaknesses?

It's all about the same. Except for China, as they have a huge circle of players to choose from. Therefore, they have bigger groups of upcoming young talented players to take over the seniors.

23. Nowadays there are a lot of former players or coaches going to Europe to pursue their badminton career. Is it a good thing for badminton?

It's good for the competition. It's good for these former players and coaches. It gives them another chance and new experience to succeed in badminton in other countries. Probably in their own countries, they have not much opportunity. All in all it's good for badminton, making it more popular.

24. What's your future goal in badminton? Any targets?

Qualifying for the London Olympics 2012, Thomas Cup and All England.

25. After badminton do you have anything in mind?

Perhaps coaching and I'll venture into some business.

26. What are the basic requirements to playing good badminton?

Discipline and hardwork.

27. What is your advice for other aspiring badminton players?

You have to have high level of discipline, commitment, sacrifice, dedicated and most importantly love the sport.

28. If you don't mind Mr Hafiz, would you mind sharing us about the down fall after winning the prestigious All England Championship 2003?

At that time, I was really young. Just 19 years old. I have no focus. Another thing is when you're a champion everyone is studying your game. Due to lack of focus in tournament and training, I've lost in a lot of early rounds, and lost my self confidence. I got to start from zero again, the hardest part is building up the self confidence.

29. You've been in this game for a long time. When do reckon you want to retire?

Yes, but retirement is not on my mind at the moment. There's a lot more to be achieved such as major tournaments. Perhaps in 3 year's time I'll consider.

30. Who do you think is current upcoming players in Malaysia? and why?

I still don't see anyone. They are still learning. They still don't have the eagerness to win, they have the hunger but no eagerness. They'll just upset some big names in the first 2 rounds then they're gone. Probably they still lack of mental strength as well.

31. There is currently still a big gap to fill between the young players and the senior players. Why is it so?

Experience, as senior players has more opportunity to play tournaments. The younger players have still a lot to learn. Their target and work in training has to be same level. For example, if this young player target to be champion but at night he goes out partying. He can't perform his best in training the next day. So the target and the work in training have to be same. All in all, discipline, drive and commitment.

32. Do you see any players in the world to take over players like Lin Dan , Peter Gade, Lee Chong Wei and etc.?

Chen Long

33. Is there any ways for BAM to improve their systems for better results on international scene?

More international tournaments for back up players.

34. is planning to start a badminton league. Do you think it will increase the level of the players especially the younger players? and why?

Yes of course, that's where you can see more talent for the country. Now it's hard to see any talent coming up.

35. Do you support the league and why?

Yes totally, better future for Malaysia Badminton.

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