Lee Chong Wei leaving BAM Academy in Kuala Lumpur after a training session on Feb 11, 2019. Pic by MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

KUALA LUMPUR: Lee Chong Wei wants his younger teammates to make every tournament count as the BAM go through

a belt-tightening exercise this year.

The former World No 1, who is making a return to top flight badminton after a battle with nose cancer, acknowledged yesterday the financial challenges facing the national body.

And he has advised his teammates not to be picky but to step up to the plate, especially with the Olympic qualifying period looming.

"The ones who will feel the brunt (financial challenges) are the players. They have to be consistent.

"This is not the time for them to be complaining about not wanting to go to certain tournaments. It should not be an issue.

"2019 is a very important year because it's the Olympic qualifying year. You blow your chance and you'll have to wait for another four years before having a crack again. By then, it could be too late.

"As far as I know, players already know of the tournaments they will compete in for the next six months, so focus on that. It's going to be crucial come May 1. They cannot be going to tournaments just to make up the numbers.

"BAM can only plan for the tournaments, the rest is up to the players and coaches, and how well they work together," said Chong Wei, who is hoping to make a full comeback at the Malaysia Open in April.

Chong Wei, who was diagnosed with cancer seven months ago, believes the departures of fellow Olympic silver medallists Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men's doubles) and Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles) from BAM to turn professional, should spur the national players to raise their game.

"Senior players like V Shem-Wee Kiong and Peng Soon-Liu Ying have left the national side. This should motivate the younger players to up their game, because it's their time to shine now.

"Now is the time for them to prove themselves. This is what Malaysian badminton needs, good players both inside and outside the national body.

"At the end of the day we carry the same badge on our shirts and we fight for the same country. It's every athletes dream to reach the Olympic Games," added Chong Wei.

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