Shuttlers’ victory proves that the best of Malaysia will triumph

It was akin to a fairy-tale ending.

In fact, Malaysia’s 3-0 victory against Indonesia in the men’s team final at the Badminton Asia Team Championship yesterday could very well be the start of something good for the national badminton scene.

Just last month, all eyes were on Malaysia for the not-so-right reasons after the BA of Malaysia (BAM) slapped a two-year ban on two shuttlers – Lee Zii Jia and Goh Jin Wei – for wanting to play independently.

The saga drew criticism from within and abroad, and even turned “political” when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob entered the picture.

BAM, ego bruised, kept insisting that it had followed the process and that the players had room to appeal against the decision.

Yesterday, however, the national body seemed to have the last laugh. The episode involving Lee and Goh was quickly forgotten as the former led the national men’s team to win the regional tournament – the first-ever title by Malaysia.

The others who represented Malaysia were Soh Wooi Yik-Aaron Chia, Leong Jun Hao, Ng Tze Yong and Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani.

All was not lost for Indonesia as their women’s team defeated South Korea 3-1 in the final.

Malaysia’s women’s team emerged as the bronze medal winners.

Critics argued that this year’s edition offered a depleted field. China, Taiwan, and Thailand did not fly to Shah Alam due to Covid-19. It was also reported that Indonesia did not send its strongest squad.

These teams had the opportunity to play and present their best line-up. Yet, they didn’t do so – and it’s no fault of Malaysia’s.

More importantly, the Asian championship showed that the shuttlers gave their best to win the title – regardless if the player was independent, or training under BAM’s stable. That itself was a victory.

This practice should rightfully be celebrated for it promises that only the best will don the national colours, no matter which system they come from.

The success of the team left fans elated, put a smile on many sports lovers, and provided some form of assurance that there’s perhaps more to come.

Badminton, at this moment, is an open field. No one single player dominates the scene, as evident in the inconsistent performances by some of the top players.

Unlike in the past, where the likes of Peter Gade, Taufik Hidayat, Lin Dan and Datuk Lee Chong Wei dominated the courts – these days, every player seems to have a shot at glory.

This can work to Malaysia’s advantage.

The weekend win was perhaps the best way to show that the national badminton scene is somewhat back on track.