Badminton: Malaysia lament first absence from Masters Finals

Badminton: Malaysia lament first absence from Masters Finals
Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei speaks to media during a news conference.

KUALA LUMPUR - Badminton 'powerhouse' Malaysia lamented their absence from next week's $1 million Super Series Masters Finals in Dubai and warned the current crop of shuttlers to buck up their ideas or risk being axed.

With world number one Lee Chong Wei suspended for a doping violation, Malaysia will have no representatives at the prestigious Dec. 17-21 end-of-season event for the top eight men, women and doubles teams. "We are one of the badminton powerhouses but it is sad that we will not have any Malaysian in this major BWF tournament for the first time. This should not happen again," Badminton Association of Malaysia deputy president Norza Zakaria was quoted as saying in local newspapers on Wednesday.

Lee won the men's singles title at four of the six editions, with other Malaysian successes coming only in the early years.

Wong Pei Tty and Chin Eei Hui took the first two women's doubles crowns, Koo Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong the inaugural men's championship in 2008 and Wong Mew Choo the women's singles in 2009.

Norza said Malaysia had become too dependent on Lee, who was provisionally suspended by the Badminton World Federation (BWF) last month for an "apparent" anti-doping violation.

The 32-year-old, twice Commonwealth Games champion and double Olympic silver medallist, appealed the verdict and is awaiting the decision. "We have relied too much on Chong Wei," Norza said, turning the blame on the understudies Chong Wei Feng, ranked 22nd in the Destination Dubai rankings, and 48th placed Liew Daren.

"I'm disappointed that his two successors ... have failed to narrow the gap this year.

"In the recent Axiata Cup, Wei Feng was the team captain in the absence of Chong Wei but he faltered when it mattered most.

"If these two seniors do not buck up, we may have to forget about them and focus on the youngsters."

Norza was hopeful the appointment of BWF Hall of Famer Morten Frost Hansen would shake up the system.

"We hope Morten will look into these glaring problems in the men's singles department and come out with solutions," he said of the Dane.

"He officially starts work in March but he will be here in January ... to sit down with everyone in the training and coaching set-up to review and re-strategise."

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