PUTRAJAYA: National singles shuttler Chong Wei Feng won his opening group match in the Maybank National Grand Prix Finals at Precinct 11 Sports Complex here on Friday but he was not jumping in joy.
He felt that the new venue was not an ideal place to host the tournament.
“I can’t help but feel disappointed. The venue is not conducive for a big event like this. Can you imagine that the cool air from the air-conditioners was aimed directly at us from above. It affected the flow of the shuttle,” said Wei Feng after beating R. Satheishtharan 25-27, 21-12, 21-8 in his first Group A match.
“The quality of the match is affected. I hope that the hosts will, at least, switch off the air conditioner for the next few days.
“The hall can hardly fit three courts. My team-mate Iskandar (Zulkarnain Zainuddin)’s court was so close to the wall that it affected his play. This is the national championships and I wished it would have been held at a bigger place.
“I guess, it is too late to make any changes … we just have to make do with what we have right now,” added Wei Feng, who is eyeing to become the national champion for the first time.
The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) are hosting the GP Finals for the first time in Putrajaya. The hall at the Precinct 11 can accommodate 300 spectators but on the final day, the hosts has promised to open up space to cater for an additional 500 seats.
And to ensure that there is crowd control, tickets are sold at RM10.
Former All-England champion Mohd Hafiz Hashim was also not pleased with the hall.
“Putrajaya is beautiful. The Sports Complex here is nice and new but the badminton hall is not suitable to host the event. This is the biggest local badminton event and I am surprised that it is held here,” said Hafiz.
“How do we promote the game if we do not get spectators to come and watch us play. The seats are so limited. Today, I only saw most of my former team-mates. It looks more like a training session,” he said, while adding that even the national training centre at Stadium Juara in Bukit Kiara could accommodate 2,000 people.
On Friday, Hafiz played in the men’s doubles event with Mohd Razif Abdul Latif but both went down fighting 21-7, 16-21, 20-22 to BAM’s Mohd Lutfi Zaim Khalid-Tan Wee Gieen in a Group A match.
It was however, an easy workout for two tournament favourites – Hoon Thien How-Tan Wee Kiong and Lim Khim Wah-Goh V Shem when they won their Group A and Group B matches in convincing fashion.
The top two pairs in each group will proceed to the semi-finals.