One squad for the future of Singapore badminton

One squad for the future of Singapore badminton
Local mixed doubles pair Danny Bawa Chrisnanta (left) and Vanessa Neo during the OUE Singapore Open.

Sports fans may be expecting Singapore's athletes to raise the bar and deliver when the Republic hosts the South-east Asia (SEA) Games in June.

But they will have to temper their expectations with badminton, after the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) released its Games squad yesterday.

Eleven shuttlers in the 20-strong squad will be making their international debuts at the Games at the Indoor Stadium in two months' time, with the men's average age at 22, and the women's at 20.

The team will be led by stalwarts Derek Wong, Danny Bawa Chrisnanta, Vanessa Neo and Shinta Mulia Sari, while the return of 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Hendra Wijaya has strengthened the doubles squad.

SBA president Lee Yi Shyan had warned at the OUE Singapore Open last week that the SEA Games team would be one for the future, that supporters need to "be realistic" about their medal hopes.

In a media statement yesterday, he said: "We have given our shuttlers the best grooming, and hope, where possible, to create good results for the SEA Games.

"Our young players will find the Games to be great exposure, especially as they want to advance to major tournaments, while the more experienced players can continue to hone their skills.

"As they play on home ground, we encourage Singaporeans to give them the support that is so crucial to players on court."

Singapore have won only three gold medals in the history of the Games, the last in the women's singles by Fu Mingtian in Indonesia in 2011.

They won a bronze in the women's doubles in 2013 in Myanmar.

Fu, along with Ashton Chen, Terry Yeo, Gu Juan and Yao Lei, have since hung up their rackets, resulting in the SBA fast-tracking youngsters such as Yeo Jia Min, Elaine Chua, Ryan Ng and Jason Wong into the national fold.

ABSENT

2010 Youth Olympian Huang Chao was conspicuously absent from the list, and is understood to be injured.

But men's singles world No. 48 Wong is upbeat about playing in front of home fans.

He said: "I look forward to meeting the badminton powerhouses of the region. I will definitely be fighting for a medal on home ground."

Jia Min, 16, added: "This will be my first major tournament and I am really excited although nervous at the same time.

"I hope to perform well as this would be my first step into the bigger and more prestigious games of my career."

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