The Straits Times ran a report on 5 May 2008 on the selection dilemma that the Singapore Badminton Association is currently facing – choosing Ronald Susilo or Kendrick Lee as its sole representative in the men’s singles at the Beijing Olympics. Read the full report here.
This is quite an interesting selection dilemma: should the SBA go for the experienced and tried-and-tested shuttler despite his being bogged down by injuries? Or should the NSA go for the up-and-coming one despite his erratic and inconsistent form?
To be honest, in this case, I’d rather plump for Kendrick to take the Beijing ticket over Ronald. Much as I hate to say this, but I think Ronald’s best days are more or less behind him – even though he’s only 28.
He’s been struggling with injuries and hasn’t really made an impact in the badminton world in recent times. You’ve got to remember too that despite being the more decorated player, Ronald’s last major triumph was in 2006 when he won the five-star Japan Open.
On the other hand, despite Kendrick’s frustratingly erratic form, the fact is that he did reach the men’s singles final of the SEA Games last year, before losing tamely to Indonesia’s Taufik Hidayat, the first Singaporean finalist at the competition since Wong Shoon Keat in 1983.
And that is no mean feat – after all the SEA Games features the top players from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, who are considered world-class in badminton standards.
Kendrick, 24, also reached the quarter-finals of this year’s Malaysia Open in January.
Besides, he’s younger and potentially hungrier, and let’s face it, at this stage, has a lot more potential for growth compared to Ronald.
So I say, if the decision has to be made by a committee, then give the Beijing ticket to Kendrick.
Throw him into the cauldron for experience’s sake and who knows, even though he may not make it past the opening rounds, the steep learning curve may prove to be beneficial to him at some of next year’s major competitions (Remember how the 2004 Olympics steered Ronald to the Japan Open title the following year?)
What amazes me most is how the Singapore Badminton Association is failing to seize this opporutnity to drum up some major interest in badminton in the lead-up to the Olympics.
You want your Singaporeans to feel like they can identify with your shuttlers? You want them to be cheering on your athletes at the Beijing Games? Then, why not arrange a best-of-five, winner-takes-all square-off series between Ronald and Kendrick and open the sessions to the public?
I think the series will really capture the public and the media’s attention, especially if it really goes down to the wire. Imagine Kendrick and Ronald drawing 2-2 and fighting for their lives in the final best of three sets match up. What a delicious thought.
Not only that, the series will be the perfect sending-off for the victor to Beijing. Not only will the winner get valuable sparring time but he will also go off to Beijing, knowing that he truly has earned his ticket as well as the suport of the public.
I really cannot think of a better marketing gimmick or advertisment for Singapore badminton than this. And if I were from Aviva or Yonex-Sunrise (the former sponsors the Singapore Open while the latter is the equipment sponsor for the SBA), I would readily come forward and bang down the money to sponsor this face-off.
Come on, SBA, let’s show some imagination here.
Yours in Sports,
Singapore Sports Fan