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Finding excuses

Translated by DOMINIC LOH
Sin Chew Daily

As the youth and sports minister, Khairy shouldn't have looked for excuses for Lee Chong Wei's defeat to Lin Dan in the just concluded BWF World Championships. Instead of putting the blame on the air conditioners, perhaps he should attempt to find out why Lee has lost to his Chinese archrival on so many occasions as well as the overall uninspiring showing of our national squad.

Lee did not blame anyone for his defeat, and that is the attitude a true sportsman should possess. Only if a person admits his shortfalls will he be able to emerge strong again.

The Koo-Tan pair, on the other hand, have attributed their defeat to the excessive pressure on them, and given their unconceding attitude, it won't be a surprise to anyone if they fail to score again in the future.

Lee has often lost out to Lin by narrow margins probably because he is psychologically inferior to Lin, or he lacks training mates of comparable standards back home, our training system is less comprehensive, or because we don't have superior coaches like China's.

Failing to identify the real reasons behind our defeats means Lee Chong Wei will continue to play second fiddle to Lin.

Malaysia used to be the "badminton kingdom." However, in the Guangzhou championships, we failed to make any advances while our Southeast Asian neighbours did.

We sent out our largest contingent ever, but only Lee made it to the finals. Koo-Tan managed to sail into the quarterfinals while the rest were wiped out after the third rounds.

In contrast, Indonesia has emerged as a reckoned force in this sport again, clinching both the men's double and mixed double titles while 18-year-old Thai lass Ratchanok Inthanon reigned as the youngest world champion ever, and the first from her country.

Ratchanok's story is very much like a movie plot. Her parents are factory workers. Because Ratchanok was very playful when she was five or six, his parents' employer had to put the children together to practise badminton in order to keep them away from the cooking furnaces in the vicinity.

Ratchanok practised very hard day after day, and already won the World Junior Championships at the age of 14.

Notably, her coach is China's Xie Zhihua who used to be the training partner for China's men's double Li Yongbo and Tian Bing.

The undyng fighting spirit of Ratchanok Inthanon used to be the strength of the Malaysian badminton team. Foo Kok Keong, who helped Malaysia win the Thomas Cup in 1992, was known for his formidable fighting spirit and persistence.

Young Malaysian players today lack not only this fighting spirit, but discipline as well, having been regularly spotted frequenting entertainment joints.

The performance of our national squad, unfortunately, epitomises our equally lacklustre performance in many other areas, which is worrisome.

Firstly, we have gradually lost our fighting spirit. We no longer take hardships and are easily contented with being "kampung champions."

Secondly, we have failed to retain some of our most brilliant talents, including foreign coaches thanks to our unique system and culture. A system that shuns meritocracy will only thump our competitiveness.

Thirdly, finding excuses for our defeats has become very much a norm in this country., as we back off from reflecting on our own shortcomings. For example, we blame the abolition of the Emergency Ordinance for deteriorating crime and dismiss global university ranking as a yardstick to gauge the standards of our universities.

To lose a game is not something disgraceful. To lose our fighting spirit and shame is.


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