PETALING JAYA: World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei was clearly in a good mood with the return of Rashid Sidek as the national men’s singles coach.
Rashid, the 1996 Olympic bronze medallist tendered his resignation on Sept 19 as he was uncomfortable with the structural changes in the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM)’s coaching stable.
The following week saw BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff reverting to the old coaching and training structure and scrapping the changes made by Tan Aik Mong, who has since stepped down as the Talent Management Group (TMG) director. On Monday, Rashid submitted a letter to the BAM stating his intention to return as coach of the men’s singles team.
BAM welcomed him back and Rashid was back at the Juara Stadium on Tuesday for his “first day” of work.
No one was happier to see him than Chong Wei, who turns 31 on Oct 21.
“It’s really great that Rashid is back ... not just for me but for the whole team as well,” beamed Chong Wei.
“Some think that I don’t really need a coach but Rashid has been there for me for so many years. He and (Tey) Seu Bock are both my coaches and I have nothing but the utmost respect for them.
“With Rashid back, there is a better training spirit and everyone is feeling happier too.
“It’s great for the likes of (Chong) Wei Feng and (Liew) Daren because they have the Denmark and French Opens coming up. Most importantly is that everyone work together to improve the state of Malaysian badminton.”
As for himself, Chong Wei added that he will still compete in the China League, where he plays for the Guangdong Century City Badminton Club, before leaving for the Denmark meet from Oct 15-20.
“I will leave tomorrow and I have a match on Thursday and another on Saturday where I will face Lin Dan once more,” said Chong Wei.
“Personally, it has been a really good experience playing in the China League because I have Cai Yun-Fu Haifeng as my teammates and Tang Hsien-hu as a coach and it has been really enjoyable working with them.
“Furthermore, the tournament format is an 11-point best-of-three so it is not so tiring. It’ll definitely be fun taking on Lin Dan once more,” added Chong Wei.
Meanwhile, Rashid said that after being away for 12 days, the focus now is just to prepare the players for the upcoming tournaments.
“There’s the KL Open first and I just want to ensure that the elite players perform up to mark while the backup and juniors step up,” said Rashid.
The KL Open starts Wednesday at the KLBA Stadium in Cheras with Wei Feng and Daren the two top seeds.
The other BAM players in the fray are Iskandar Zulkarnian Zainuddin, Loh Wei Sheng, Goh Giap Chin, Soong Joo Ven, Soo Teck Zhi, Chong Yee Han, Tan Kian Meng and Nur Mohd Azriyn Ayup.