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Malaysia Forced to Bank on Badminton, Says Sports Chief

Malaysia's sporting fraternity has performed a reality check when analysing their performance at the recently concluded Beijing Olympics and their hopes for London 2012.

And the verdict is that badminton is by far their best hope of medals.

Malaysia has yet to win a gold medal at Olympic level and, despite funds and talent being poured into many sports, badminton remains the only code where medals can be expected.

That was the verdict of National Sports Council director general Wira Mazlan Ahmad, who gave his views in an interview with The Star newspaper.

Lee Chong Wei gave Malaysia their only medal when he won silver in the men's singles badminton tournament.

That ended a 12-year medal drought for Malaysia. And what was their last medal? That's right, badminton again, back at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Mazlan was all but saying that Malaysia should focus on what they are good at and not put too much effort on sports that are unlikely to end in glory for the country.

There were hopes that archery and cycling would also produce medals but, in the end, the tried and test sport of badminton once again came up trumps.

"Sometimes, we Malaysians do not set realistic targets. It is the Olympic Games we are talking about. Even winning a bronze medal is an honour for some athletes," Mazlan was quoted as saying.

"There was an over-expectation in Beijing and we allowed ourselves to live in a fantasy world for a while.

"It is important to be honest to ourselves and start looking at where our strength lies before embarking on programme that involves a lot of money."

He said that if Malaysia wanted to look beyond badminton for success in the Olympics, then the London Games in four years' time is not a realistic target.

"It is vital to take a closer look. We have to decide whether these sports are good enough to win a medal at the Olympics or are they just good enough for the SEA or Asian Games and Commonwealth Games," he said.

"Badminton will still be the main medal contributor at the next Olympics but more calibre players must be groomed as we are running out of world-class shuttlers, especially in the singles.

"And for some of the shuttlers, they must explain their failures at the Olympics because they have been given so much."

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