SBA chief happy with shuttlers' progress
Just 11 months ago, the sport had been in a flux, with a sudden change in coaching staff following one of the worst performances in recent years.
Almost a year on, Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) president Lee Yi Shyan is happy with the progress made by the sport on the international arena.
"The progress is good; some of the older players have retired, but this gives room to some of the younger players to come up," said Lee, who is also the Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and National Development.
"We are promoting (young players to the national team) at a faster rate. At 15 or 17, they are on the international circuit."
The likes of Terry Yeo, Ashton Chen, Gu Juan and Yao Lei have left the sport in recent years, leaving a sizeable gap to fill as Singapore prepares to host the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games next June.
This follows the axing of former singles head coach Luan Ching and doubles trainer Yoo Yong Sung in January this year.
But the shuttlers have done significantly well this year, clinching two silvers and a bronze at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last July.
SBA's director of team administration Chew Keet Hou said about 10 shuttlers from the National Intermediate Squad have been training with the national team for the past month.
He said: "There are two in the men's singles, four in the women's singles and four doubles players who are now training with the team.
"Hopefully, this will help them bridge the gap between themselves and the seniors faster and we can rope some of them in permanently."
Commonwealth Games men's singles silver medallist Derek Wong says the remaining seniors such as himself, Shinta Mulia Sari, Chayut Triyachart, Vanessa Neo and Danny Bawa Chrisnanta will have to bear the responsibility of inspiring their juniors, as they prepare for the biennial Games.
The 25-year-old said: "Definitely, there will be pressure to step up, we would want to do well and win medals to show our juniors the way. Hopefully, they will aspire to equal, if not, better our achievements in time to come."
Despite the exodus of several stalwarts, SBA chief Lee is confident that the new-look team have what it takes to do well at the SEA Games.
He said: "We will definitely try our best; some of our younger players may not have the experience of the very seasoned players of the region, but who is to say that (our players) cannot beat them?
"We have to go into the SEA Games with sufficient confidence that our players will do their best."
Two venues for Singapore Open?
DEAL: SBA president Lee Yi Shyan (left) shaking hands with OUE Limited executive chairman Dr Stephen Riady. TNP PHOTO: CHOO CHWEE HUA
The OUE Singapore Open, or at least part of the marquee badminton competition here, may be held elsewhere, in the Singapore Sports Hub next year.
This was announced by Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) president Lee Yi Shyan yesterday, on the sidelines of a ceremony unveiling OUE Limited as the title sponsor of the Badminton World Federation SuperSeries event till 2017.
The competition has been held in the 12,000-capacity Singapore Indoor Stadium for years, but Lee raised the possibility of holding the Singapore Open at the 3,000-capacity OCBC Arena, another facility within the Sports Hub.
"(The smaller capacity) would be fine except the last two days, where we would probably need a bigger venue," said Lee, also the Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and National Development.
"But, if we use two venues, then there are additional costs, and spectators might be confused... and the tournament has got stringent requirements on lighting and flooring.
PROS AND CONS
"So, we haven't decided yet... we need to weigh the pros and cons, but we will be making a decision very soon."
Yesterday, the national sports association inked a three-year $2.2 million sponsorship deal with OUE.
The real estate owner and developer had earlier signed a deal to headline this year's tournament in April.
"Through our title sponsorship, OUE hopes to promote the development of badminton in schools and the community in Singapore," said OUE Limited executive chairman Dr Stephen Riady.
"We also believe that the OUE Singapore Open will continue to give local players the opportunity to compete at the highest levels."
The sponsorship will go a long way to the organisation of the event, which costs about $1.3m each year.
"We still need to find other sponsors; our ticketing revenue from the spectators is about 10 per cent each year," said Lee.
"If you look at ticketing prices for major events, this (ours) is really low because we give discounts to school children, senior citizens and season ticket holders. We don't expect much revenue from ticketing."