The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) is refusing to put any “unnecessary pressure” on players heading to Tokyo 2020 as it sticks to its goal of achieving the country’s long-awaited first Olympic gold medal in the sport at Paris 2024.
Malaysia has achieved eight badminton medals since the sport made its debut on the Olympic programme at Barcelona 1992, but has so far failed to secure gold.
The nation has won 11 Olympic medals in all, but none were gold.
Lee Chong Wei holds three men’s singles silver medals, with last coming at Rio 2016 where Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong and Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying claimed medals of the same colour in men’s doubles and mixed doubles respectively.
BAM President Tan Sri Mohamad Norza Zakaria said the association would get behind the efforts of the country’s top badminton talent including Lee Zii Jia, who recently clinched the men’s singles title at the All England Open, as they prepare for Tokyo 2020.
But Norza said he does not expect the 23-yeart-old and the rest of the Malaysian team to capture the elusive gold medal at this year’s rescheduled Olympics in the Japanese capital.
“We will provide them with undivided support, and if we trust in them, I think the results will come,” said Norza in comments reported by the Malay Mail.
“But to give unnecessary pressure on them is premature.
“Players like Zii Jia, Pearly Tan [Koong Le] and Thinaah [Muralitharan] also have their own dreams and know what the people expect from them.
“I think we will stick with the target for our young team to achieve success in Paris 2024.”
Norza was speaking at the launch of the “Wall of Champions” at Academy Badminton Malaysia (ABM) in Bukit Kiara.
The aim of the Wall of Champions is to provide financial incentives to players competing on the Badminton World Federation World Tour.
Lee claimed RM30,000 (£5,240/$7,246/€6,162) in recognition for his run at the All England Open in Birmingham as he defeated Japan’s world number one Kento Momota in the quarter-finals before overcoming defending champion Viktor Axelsen of Denmark in the final.
Pearly Tan Koong Le and Thinaah Muralitharan secured RM15,000 (£2,620/$3,623/€3,0810 after beating Bulgarians Gabriela Stoeva and Stefani Stoeva to capture the women’s doubles title at the Swiss Open.
“Today, we have the pleasure of holding this short, but sweet ceremony to show our appreciation for the heroics of our young players at the All England and the Swiss Open,” said Norza, who also leads the Olympic Council of Malaysia.
“We are also launching the Wall of Champions with the aim to celebrate the World Tour wins of our players.
“It is my hope that there’ll be more champions produced from this national badminton centre of excellence, the ABM and placed on this Wall of Champions.
“It will spur the confidence, motivation and humility of the young players in our facility to achieve the much needed consistency in their displays.”
Norza said BAM would be sending a young team to this year’s Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Vietnamese capital Hanoi with the aim of matching the country’s 10-medal haul at the 2019 Games in the Philippines.
“We need to ensure that even if we send young players, it is a formidable team,” added Norza.
“We think that we should also maintain our performance at the SEA Games.”