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    Post Malaysians need to be faster if they want to win: Li Mao

    TheStar
    KUALA LUMPUR: The men's singles players in the Malaysian national badminton team lack speed in their game.

    Newly-appointed coach Li Mao came to this conclusion after having seen the players in training since last Tuesday. The Chinese coach said yesterday that the players needed to add speed to their game if they harboured hopes of winning major titles.

    “The Malaysian players are not fast enough compared to the Chinese,” said Li Mao.

    “If you lack the speed and drive, you will have problem catching up with your opponent. If you cannot control the pace, you can only hope that your opponent makes mistakes.

    “I want my players to have the ability to play a fast game. This is what the game is all about today.”

    The Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) hired Li Mao last week as one of two singles coaches for the national senior team (Project 2006-08 squad). The other is Misbun Sidek, who was the national singles chief coach for two years in the previous set-up.

    On Monday, former doubles chief coach Yap Kim Hock, who was appointed as the overall chief, announced that Li Mao would take charge of national number one Lee Chong Wei, Wong Choong Hann, Lee Tsuen Seng, Yeoh Kay Bin and K. Yogendran.

    Li Mao will also coach the top women's singles player, Wong Mew Choo.

    Misbun will handle only two players – 2003 All-England champion Mohd Hafiz Hashim and Kuan Beng Hong.

    Li Mao chose not to say how he would get the players to play at a faster pace. But he acknowledged that the Malaysian players have the skills and the fitness required.

    “From what I see, the players are willing to learn. This is a good sign,” he said.

    One of the ways that Li Mao could use to improve the players' speed and reflexes is by having more multi-shuttle drills.

    Li Mao has had a stint as coach of the Chinese national team and among the players he nurtured were Ji Xinpeng and Xia Xuanze, the gold and bronze medallists respectively at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

    Xuanze went on to win the World Championships title in 2003, beating Choong Hann in the final.

    Li Mao's last stint was with South Korea and three of his charges, Shon Seung-mo, Park Tae-sang and Lee Hyun-Il, qualified for the Athens Olympics last year. Seung-mo finished as the runner-up to Indonesian Taufik Hidayat.

    Malaysia have not produced an Olympic or world champion and Li Mao has made it clear that his ultimate goal here is to help one of the players achieve it.

    He rates Chong Wei and Choong Hann as the better players in his stable.

    “They are top class players in the world alongside Taufik, (China's) Lin Dan and Bao Chunlai and (Denmark's) Peter-Gade Christensen,” said Li Mao.

    His immediate task is to see his charges qualify for the World Championships, which will be played in Los Angeles from Aug 15-21.

    The qualification period ends at the end of May and each country can have a maximum of four players in the men's singles.

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    Multi Shuttle Drills?

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