Busy months ahead for shuttlers as BAM starts Paris preparations

19/09/2021 02:48 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 -- A busy competition schedule awaits the national shuttlers, with some might be away from home till end of the year as the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) has laid out a back-to-back competition plan.

BAM Coaching Director Wong Choong Hann said it was part of their plan to prepare the relatively young Malaysian squad for the Paris 2024 Olympics, with the current cycle only three years after the Tokyo Games was delayed for a year due to COVID-19 pandemic.

“We only have three years, it is very challenging because a lot of youngsters might be good, but they also need time to improve their rankings and play in the higher tier tournaments. So we wanted to start this cycle earliest as possible, means they will have to start competing this year,” he told reporters.

The long series of tournaments will begin with the Sudirman Cup in Vantaa, Finland from Sept 26 to Oct 3, followed by the Thomas and Uber Cup finals in Aarhus, Denmark (Oct 9-17),  Denmark Open in Odense (Oct 19-24) and French Open (Oct 26-31).

Choong Hann said the team will then fly straight to Bali for the Indonesia Masters (Nov 16-21), Indonesia Open (Nov 23-28) and World Tour Finals (Dec 1-5), before heading back to Europe for the World Championships (Dec 12-19) in Huelva, Spain.

This means, some players like national top men’s singles player Lee Zii Jia might be competing in as much as eight tournaments, from end of this month till December.

Choong Hann stressed that it was crucial to participate in the major Badminton World Federation (BWF) World Tour events like the Denmark Open, French Open and Indonesia Open to secure the World Tour Finals ticket.

“We have to manage the COVID-19 SOP (standard operating procedures) in multiple countries and quarantine period (of 14 days) we have to endure if we come back home, so that’s why the journey in between we have to go through in one go.

“It is taxing actually, but at the same time, we also have one or two weeks break in between some of the tournaments. We are preparing for it, and will bring along some light mobile equipment for strength and conditioning programme for players to prevent injuries and maintain physical condition,” he said.

Meanwhile, Choong Hann also aims to see the Olympics bronze medallists in the men’s doubles, Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik win their maiden major title along the way, spurred by their Tokyo run.

“I believe the bronze has spurred them to train even harder and have more daring wishes for themselves and it is also seen from their training attitude, in fact, not just them but the whole team in the national set up. We definitely have some targets for them of winning some of the championships and we will work hand in hand to achieve that,” he added.