FOR those who always believe the glass is half full rather than half empty, Malaysia did not do badly in the World Badminton Championships which ended in Hyderabad, India, on Sunday as the national shuttlers returned with two bronze medals.
The fact that Malaysia had two pairs in the men’s doubles semi-finals will be another reason for optimism and they will point to the next edition in Paris as to where Malaysia will finally come good.
But the BA of Malaysia must not think along these lines for Hyderabad was a disaster despite Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong and Zakry Latif-Fairuzizuan Tazari making the semi-finals.
Winning bronze was never the target for Malaysia went to India believing that Lee Chong Wei would take full advantage of Lin Dan’s waning drive, or so we thought, and win the men’s singles gold.
There was optimism too that the men’s doubles, especially Kien Keat-Boon Heong, would finally rediscover their form and steal a second title for Malaysia.
Instead, what Malaysians feared would happen, happened as Chong Wei, inexplicably, played an extremely poor game in the quarter-finals and Sony Dwi Kuncoro of Indonesia didn’t need a second invitation to send the Malaysian packing.
Chong Wei’s disappointment was shared by millions of Malaysians but I am sure we can’t help but notice there is a distinct pattern when it comes to his campaigns in major events.
Simply put, Chong Wei tends to freeze in major competitions and this is a fact that is driven home by the point that his last appearance in the semi-finals of the World Championships was in Anaheim, the United States, in 2005.
Last year’s loss to Lin Dan in the final of the Beijing Olympics was another instance of Chong Wei freezing as he was blown off the court in a one-sided final.
This has to do with more than just luck, which Chong Wei suggested was against him after his Hyderabad loss, and BAM has to seriously do something about it.
The clock is ticking fast as far as Chong Wei’s career is concerned and BAM’s next course of action is crucial.
Sure, Chong Wei still has several years of top flight badminton left in him but the fear is that as long as he sees Lin Dan’s shadow on the horizon, he will never be able to win any of the major honours.
Some have even started calling him "Jaguh Kampung" but that, we know, isn’t the case for Chong Wei has single-handledly shouldered the burden of flying the Malaysian flag so many times before.
What he needs now, when he must be desperately low, is support but the crucial point here is that even as BAM rallies to help him, it must be mindful that it can no longer afford to place all its eggs in the same basket.
It has to make hard decisions and this has to be across the board for Malaysia’s problems are not limited to the men’s singles but also in the doubles and women’s events.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong and Zakry-Fairuz are too inconsistent to convince us they can be relied on in the 2012 London Olympics while Wong Mew Choo and Wong Pei Tty-Chin Eei Hui, despite being Malaysia’s best women’s singles and doubles respectively, are simply not world class.
With just three years to go to the London Olympics, BAM has to revamp its programmes and start blooding new players for if it continues to rely on the same faces, then even bigger disasters await Malaysian badminton in the near future.