Interesting article...

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The Star Online > Sports
Sunday, June 15, 2003

Good bonding exercise for junior and senior shuttlers during Elite Challenge tournament

BY RAJES PAUL

PETALING JAYA: The recently concluded Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) inaugural Elite Challenge may have its flaw but it has certainly pulled off one big achievement - the bonding between the juniors and seniors in the national badminton squad.

Previously, the juniors hardly had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the so-called elite players in the national team which led to a yawning gap in standards.

Hence it was an enlightening and confidence building encounter when budding shuttlers from the Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) played with and against the seniors in the Elite Challenge meet.

It was a rare sight indeed as the seniors gave tips and encouragement to their young teammates and even consoled them in defeat during the three-day team meet.

And during the seven-day individual competition, the juniors spread around the courts, watching attentively and cheering their favourite seniors in action and quietly hoping that they would one day become like their idols.

National fourth ranked singles player Lee Chong Wei said that he hardly experienced such camaraderie when he was in the junior ranks.

“The seniors in my time were in their own league. Our relationships with the seniors were not so close. And it is rare for us to even spar or play alongside them. But it is changing now,” said Chong Wei.

“At the Elite Challenge, there was no barrier between the juniors and seniors. It is good for the juniors as they can learn from the seniors to improve themselves.

Sometimes, just one encouraging word from a senior can fuel the fire in the youngsters to do well,” said the 21-year-old Chong Wei.

For 14-year-old Vountus Indra Mawan, the experience of playing in the boys' singles and doubles in the Elite Challenge was awesome.

“It was great to play alongside the seniors in the team event. I want to represent Malaysia one day in the Thomas Cup Finals and I am glad I had the experience of playing with some of the seniors in the team event.

“It was very exciting and I have certainly learnt a lot. The team spirit can push us to do even better,” said Vountus, who played for the Orange Team that pocketed RM10,000 for winning the team title.

All the national players must participate in the Elite Challenge which was played under a different but challenging format to squeeze the best out of every player. At the end of the meet it gave a clear indication of the players' ranking in the country.

Previously, it has been tough on BAM to determine who was the best in the country based on the local GP tournaments because some of the seniors do not feature regularly in the local meets because of their tight international duties.

The only setback in the Elite Challenge, organised as a substitute tournament following the cancellation of several international tournaments, was the absence of umpires and linesmen on the first day.

It was rectified immediately when the national coaches took charge as umpires for the tournaments involving the seniors.

But overall, the Elite Challenge has been a success and it certainly kept the seniors on a competitive edge.