VIETNAM’s Nguyen Tien Minh was not a very happy man on the eve of the badminton competition.
The 30-year-old Tien Minh was given the top billing in the men’s singles but he claimed that the organisers had erred in Monday’s draw.
“There are 16 players in the men’s singles event and how can only two players be seeded. This is not right,” said a disappointed Tien Minh.
Tien Minh has a first round bye in the competition that starts today.
He is expected to meet the winner of the first round match between Chong Wei Feng of Malaysia and Thailand’s A. Suppanyu in the quarter-finals tomorrow.
“Wei Feng should be seeded as well. I may meet him earlier because he is unseeded. Dionysius Hayom Rumbaka of Indonesia, who should be seeded fourth, is also in my half. I am the top seed but I have the toughest draw. Usually, the top four players are seeded.
“When we queried the organisers, we were told that only two players were seeded because the number of entries is only 16. Their decision is final. This is really bizarre.”
Tien Minh, however, is determined to win his first SEA Games gold in his sixth outing.
“I have competed in every SEA Games since my first outing in Vietnam in 2003. My best was only a bronze at the 2007 Korat Games,” he said.
“Malaysia’s Wei Feng will be the toughest hurdle for me. He has been in good form of late but I will be ready for him.”
When asked whether he would become an instant big money earner in his country if he wins Vietnam’s first badminton SEA Games gold, Tien Minh said: “I was the country’s first bronze medallist at the World Championships (at Guangzhou this year) and I received US$5,000 (RM16,000). If I win here, my reward is only US$2,500 (RM8,000). Only football is big in my country. It’s not about making money. Creating a piece of history is more important to me.”
As for Malaysia’s second stringer Iskandar Zulkarnain Zainuddin, he has received a lucky break.
He has an easy ride to the semi-finals and may meet either second seed Tanongsak Saensomboonsuk of Thailand or Derek Wong of Singapore.