‘I could not say no to BAM’

Wong Choong Hann

Former national No 1 Wong Choong Hann is Badminton Association of Malaysia’s (BAM) new coaching director.

The Kuala Lumpur-born shuttler begins work on Jan 1, 2019 with the task of guiding the national shuttlers to win a gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I was approached a while back but had to keep mum until the negotiations were over,” said Choong Hann, who is on a business trip to China. He will be back on Monday.

“I have an academy to run and other businesses but all those will take a backseat during my two-year tenure.”

“I could not say no when I was approached as I consider this a national service. I have to sort out my businesses before coming on board.”

Wong said he was extremely excited by the challenge but admitted “it is not an easy job.”

Wong replaces Morten Frost who quit as technical director 13 months ago. The Dane was in charge from 2015-2017.

After Frost quit, BAM appointed five head coaches – Datuk Misbun Sidek (men’s singles), Datuk Tey Seu Bock (women’s singles), Paulus Firman (men’s doubles), Rosman Razak (women’s doubles) and Pang Cheh Chang (mixed doubles).

Last month, BAM said it would appoint a coaching director to revive the nation’s badminton fortunes.

“I will not wait until January. Once I am back in Malaysia, I will meet the coaches and officials as the sooner we start the better it is for everyone,” said Wong, whose biggest achievement was winning a silver medal at the 2003 Badminton World Championships.

“I know most of the coaches in the national set-up but need to familiarise myself with some of the younger players.”

“I have to raise the bar across the board and look forward to the challenge.”

Wong comes in with young players such as Goh Jin Wei and Lee Zii Jia winning on the international stage.

Last week, Goh won the women’s singles gold medal at the Youth Olympic Games while Lee won the Chinese Taipei Open two weeks ago.

Those were the only bright spots in another dire year for BAM, which is still reeling from the news former world No 1 Datuk Lee Chong Wei is recovering from nose cancer and could call time on his career.