PETALING JAYA: National number one Lee Chong Wei won the Malaysian Open men's singles title for the fourth time. But his good start to the season did not really give a good feeling that Malaysia are on the right track in their preparations for the Beijing Olympics.
The world number two defeated Lee Hyun-il of South Korea to take the title at the Putra Stadium on Sunday.
And coach Misbun Sidek was pleased with the manner Chong Wei handled the tournament, especially after his failures at home last year.
“He was calm and cool even though there were many distractions. The expectations were again high on him and he took it all like a true champion this time,” said Misbun.
“There will continue to be distractions but I think, Chong Wei has showed us that he had learned to deal with them well. I hope he will continue with his form in the Korean Open (beginning tomorrow at Seoul).”
But Chong Wei's victory cannot hide the fact that Malaysia are still walking on thin ice as far as their preparations for the Olympics are concerned.
Before the start of the tournament, former national singles coach Li Mao of China had criticised the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM). However, he restated that his main grouse was on the training system and not on the lack of unity between the singles and doubles players.
The BAM brushed aside his criticisms and said that all was well.
But a few days later, two of their elite men's doubles pairs – Tan Bin Shen-Ong Soon Hock and Gan Teik Chai-Lin Woon Fui – quit the team, saying that they wanted to start afresh elsewhere.
The BAM met the four players yesterday but failed to get them to remain in the team.
Doubles coach Rexy Mainaky also dropped a bombshell after the defeat of world number one Koo Kien Keat-Tan Boon Heong by former world champions Lars Paaske-Jonas Rasmussen of Denmark in the second round.
The Indonesian said that he has had enough of coaching Malaysian shuttlers and was quitting. But after a talk with the BAM president, Datuk Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, Rexy changed his mind and said he would stay on to beef up the team's preparations until the Beijing Games.
Rexy's outburst revealed the fragility of the set-up. In fact, the strained relationships between Misbun and his Nusa Mahsuri charge, Mohd Hafiz Hashim, also indicated that something was not right.
The BAM have a big task to deal with at hand. They have to double up efforts to ensure that outside pressure does not get to their players and coaches.
The lack of communication between the players and the coaches, led by Yap Kim Hock, is still evident and this needs to be corrected.
The 31-year-old Paaske pointed out Malaysia's weaknesses by saying: “Malaysians are easily distracted.
“It is really tough to beat a Malaysian when they are at their best. But sometimes, it is becomes so easy for us when they are under pressure.”