PETALING JAYA: Former national shuttler Lee Chong Wei blames the decline in Malaysian badminton on the culture of celebrating mediocrity.
The three-time Olympic silver medallist said if the country emulated the likes of China, South Korea or Japan in terms of how these countries managed the sport, Malaysia would not be experiencing a decline, the New Straits Times reported.
“Culturally, we have enabled this. We celebrate mediocrity,” he was quoted as saying.
Chong Wei said this in response to critics who slammed him for taking national shuttlers to task following their dismal performance at the recent Malaysia Open.
On Saturday, he had questioned the decision of several players to go on vacation during the Christmas period despite the tournament kicking off on Jan 9.
Today, Chong Wei said some of his critics had labelled him old fashioned and told him that work-life balance was something the current generation took into account.
While he did not disagree with the concept, Chong Wei said it was different when it came to sports.
Athletes, he added, have a very short time to excel and should they “miss the boat, it’s over”.
“When I questioned our national players holidaying so close to the Malaysia Open, I didn’t say they shouldn’t go on holiday at all. I questioned their timing,” he said, adding that to be the best athlete required tough choices and sacrifice.
Chong Wei said pointing the finger at the generational gap was not the solution and that every Malaysian must take equal responsibility in bringing about cultural reforms, or nothing will change.