WITH the World Championships usually serving as a good litmus test for the Olympics, it doesn’t augur well for Malaysia’s badminton medal prospects in Tokyo next year.
It turned out to be a bad day at the St Jakobshalle Indoor Arena in Basel, Switzerland, yesterday when Malaysia’s twin challenge ended in the quarter-finals.
Despite Malaysia winning three badminton silver medals (men’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles at the 2016 Rio Olympics, it’s troubling to imagine that just to get one medal at the 2020 Olimpics is a tall order.
Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying, who won the Olympics mixed doubles silver in Rio, do not seem to have what it takes to be a podium finisher in Tokyo.
Yesterday, the World No 5 pair started well against Japan’s World No 3
Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino with a hard fougbt 21-18 win in the first game.
But while the first game was a close affair, the Japanese duo were simply far better in the remaining games, ruthlessly winning 21-12, 21-11.
The Basel setback has raised doubts over Peng Soon-Liu Ying’s ability to summon the consistency and mental strength to excel at the highest level. For less than a month ago, they had beaten Yuta Watanabe-Arisa Higashino at the Japan Open quarter-finals (21-18, 22-20).
If China shuttlers used to be the bane of Malaysian players in major international tournaments, this time it’s the Japanese.
For after Peng Soon-Liu Ying bit the dust, Malaysia’s Lee Zii Jia was the next one to be put to the sword with Samurai-like ferocity.
The 21-year-old Zii Jia, debuting in the World Championships, was cut down 12-21, 8-21 by World No 1 Kento Momota in 37 minutes.
Though Zii Jia had the better of another Japanese, Kenta Nishimoto, a day earlier in the third round, Momota was quick to show the Malaysian he still has much to learn.