KUALA LUMPUR: About a year ago, Chinese badminton coach Li Mao of China left Malaysia in a huff – leaving national number one Lee Chong Wei in a lurch.
But yesterday, he broke his silence on the reason for his premature departure as the singles coach of the Malaysian team and took a swipe at the Badminton Association of Malaysia's (BAM) training and coaching system.
Li Mao is currently here as the coach of the South Korean singles players for the Malaysian Open, which begins on Wednesday at the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil. Prior to that, he was with the Malaysian team for two years.
He said that he could not stomach the lack of unity between the singles and doubles departments.
“It was too complex to coach the Malaysian team at that time. I follow the South Korean team for overseas tournaments and all their players stand united. But I found that Malaysia's singles and doubles were competing against each other,” said Li Mao.
“They did not support each other. If the singles does well, the doubles department is not happy and vice versa. It was not a condition that I wanted to work in anymore.”
Li Mao was also sore that his wish to train the back-up players was turned down.
“The system in Malaysia is unbelievable. Players from the BJSS (Bukit Jalil Sports School) get promoted into the back-up squad (under Rashid Sidek). But none of the back-up players came to me.
“In China and South Korea, a chief coach is given the power to chose his back-up players but not here in Malaysia. The back-up is supposed to be the feeder to the national team but I do not get to chose them. What kind of system is this?
“How can the back-up players improve if they do not train with the best players in the country. I had Chong Wei then and I wanted to produce more top players. But I did not have a pool to work with.”
The Chinese, who takes a no-nonsense approach in training, said that Malaysia should make use of their senior players.
“In China and South Korea, the old players stay on to bring up the youngsters. And I do not understand why the BAM let their senior players go just like that.”
Li Mao said that Malaysia's badminton could be heading for a slide if they do not review the system.
“I did not speak up on this when I was with the Malaysian team because I did not want to cause further problems. But when I could not play a part in improving the situation, I just left. Now, I am not worried about talking about this matter.”
On his best memories in Malaysia, Li Mao said: “It was when Chong Wei was winning the titles (a total of five under his charge).”
On the Korean team, Li Mao said that the target was the Beijing Olympics in August.
“It does not matter if they do not win (at the Malaysian Open). We want to do well at the Olympics. Currently, our top men's singles player is Park Sung-hwan. He is young and has achieved good results,” he said.