Badminton Life

Malaysia Looks to Younger Generation to Carry Flag

Malaysian national singles coach Misbun Sidek is already looking ahead to the next generation of players to succeed Olympic silver medallist Lee Chong Wei.

Misbun, who was unable to lift Lee during his straights-game loss to China's Lin Dan in the Beijing Olympics men's singles final, said he would be keen to work with younger players targeted for the 2012 London Games.

With Lee shouldering much of the singles burden, the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) is considering promoting the players from the 2010-2012 squad to the senior team. And Misbun is all for it, as he told the local media.

"Most of these players left the Bukit Jalil Sports School about two years ago," Misbun was quoted as saying. "Then, it was too early to bring them into the senior side as the gap in standard between them and the seniors was too wide.

"But the situation now has changed. The seniors, among them Wong Choong Hann and Hafiz Hashim, are nearing the twilight of their careers and the youngsters are also facing the danger of stagnating for the lack of quality exposure.

"I had a good look at these youngsters when they sparred with Lee Chong Wei in the run-up to the Olympics. And I am glad to say they are ready to step into the senior squad."

Misbun identified Chong Wei Feng, a 21-year-old rising star, as the pick of the younger generation that also comprises Liew Daren, Lok Chong Chieh, Chan Kwong Beng, Mohd Arif Latif and Vountus Indra Mawan.

BAM president Datuk Mohd Nadzmi Salleh is thought to be keen to enact changes within the national squad, including appointing Misbun's younger brother Rashid as head coach to replace Yap Kim Hock.

Rashid is currently coaching Chong, who won the 2008 Malaysia Games singles title, and his fellow 2012 back-up players.

Chong made a name for himself on the international stage when he beat All England champion and Olympic bronze medallist Chen Jin, of China, in April's Indian Open.

Said Misbun: "I see Wei Feng as the most likely to follow in the footsteps of Chong Wei. He is crafty and has improved his physical ability. But first, he needs to start achieving consistent results."

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