Tag Archives: Singapore Badminton Association

Breaking news: Derek Wong gives Singapore sport a belated National Day present with Taufik triumph

This appeared in today’s Breaking News section of The Straits Times’ website:

Singapore shuttler Derek Wong upsets former world champ

(The Straits Times Online, 11 Aug 2011)

SINGAPORE shuttler Derek Wong created one of the biggest shocks at the World Badminton Championships on Wednesday, when he defeated former Olympic and world champion Taufik Hidayat in the second round.

The unheralded Wong, 22, beat the Indonesian star 21-17, 21-14 to earn a place in the third round on Thursday against Hans-Kristian Vittinghaus of Denmark.

The upset was an unwelcome 30th birthday present for the fourth-seeded Taufik, who fell to an opponent ranked only 49th in the world.

When asked about the defeat, he kept repeating: ‘I don’t know why, I don’t know why.’

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I just want to extend my heartiest congratulations to Derek Wong for his milestone win. Considering that Taufik is still in the top 10 of the world rankings (No. 4 for now)  and a losing finalist in last year’s World Championships, this is a terribly impressive and massive scalp.

It also brings back memories of Derek’s father’s famous scalps in the 1983 South-east Asia Games in Singapore. Wong Shoon Keat stunned Indonesia’s Icuk ‘The Iceman’ Sugiarto’ – the 1983 world champion – in the semi-finals of the men’s team competition. He also defeated another Indonesian Hastomo Arbi in the men’s singles final to win Singapre’s first-ever badminton gold at the biennial multi-sports regional Games.

Can 22-year-old Derek, who is ranked 49th in the world,  go on to do the same in this tournament? I don’t think so but it would be nice to think that he would be capable of following his father’s footsteps at the SEA Games one day.

For now, I am just going to savour a momentous achievement by a local sporting talent.

Singapore badminton – bursting at the seams with foreign recruits, no thanks to the Singapore Badminton Association’s lack of faith in local talents – has been really needing a result like this, by a local-born shuttler, for a long, long time. Far too long.

Well done, Derek!  (You can read another report of Derek’s scalp here)

Thank you for your wonderful birthday gift to the country. Majullah Singapura!

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

P/S: I’d taken a long break from blogging to re-evaluate some priorities in my life, and because my interest in Singapore sport was starting to wane. And actually, I am still on my break. But I just had to post this up after seeing it. Shows what Singapore sport can still stir up in me.

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The Sports School’s win in the National Schools Badminton C’ships is also a major victory for local budding talents

The report:

This report appeared in The Straits Times on 12 April:

Montfort’s reign ends (The Straits Times, 12 April 2011)

Sean wins decider to give sports school the edge in B boys’ final

By Lin Xinyi

THE Singapore Sports School (SSP) ended Montfort Secondary’s nine-year reign as Schools National B boys’ badminton champions yesterday.

It took the SSP just over three hours to earn what they had waited seven years for – their first B boys’ title.

And just as they had done when they defeated Montfort by the same 3-2 margin in the North Zone final, the sports school turned to Sean Lee with the scores in the Pilot Pen Cup tournament tied at 2-2.

Despite slipping to a 0-6 deficit against Montfort’s No. 1 Ricky Alverino Sidharta in a flash, Sean remained composed – even if the 17-year-old was not necessarily feeling that way.

‘Before the match started, I didn’t think that I would be able to beat him,’ said Sean. ‘I became more nervous after I got off to a bad start. But I kept the shuttlecock in play and persevered.’

Sean – described by the sports school’s general manager for badminton Desmond Tan as the team’s most mentally tough shuttler – fought back to triumph 21-14, 17-21, 21-7.

As Sean’s teammates mobbed him in celebration at the Jurong East Sports Hall, Montfort coach Wong Shoon Keat could only shake his head in disappointment. Despite boasting six foreign-born shuttlers – including China-born Chen Xiangteng, who joined from Maris Stella High after the zone finals in February – Montfort could not maintain their dominance.

Wong said the difference between the two teams was in the number of hours they spent in training. The SSP shuttlers train almost twice as much as their rivals, and their superior fitness told in the end, said the 1983 South-east Asia Games gold medallist.

But he vowed to get Montfort back to winning ways: ‘It’ll be even tougher for us to be champions next year, but we’ll fight even harder.’

The sports school’s Terry Hee, who defeated Vicky Rizky Pratama 21-11, 21-12 in the opening singles, believes his school are now the team to beat.

‘This shows that the zone title wasn’t a fluke and that SSP have the best team now,’ said the 16-year-old.

Their other win came in the second singles through Ngiam Bin, who beat Jerome Wong 21-14, 21-16.

That was sandwiched by two Montfort wins in doubles. Loh Kean Hean and Chen defeated Leslie Teng and Tan Zi Jian 15-21, 21-11, 21-15, while Yoshiko Alexander Sianipar and Bimo Adi Prakoso beat Moen Teo and Haafizh Mohd Noor 21-19, 21-15.

In the B girls’ final, the sports school went down 2-3 to Anglican High. The C boys’ and girls’ titles were won by defending champions Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls’ School.

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My thoughts:

I was delighted when  I read the above report and I think you can understand why.

It just goes to show, doesn’t it?

If you have a team of talented local-born athletes, and if they are willing to put in the hours and work hard, then there is really no reason why they cannot beat a team filled with scouted foreign-born players.

For many years, the Singapore Sports School has had to play second fiddle to Montfort Secondary in badminton, and one reason for that is the latter’s active  recruitment of foreign students to maintain its status as a powerhouse in schools badminton.

But now the Sports School has broken Montfort’s stranglehold on the national schools crown, despite Montfort’s efforts to further strengthen its team after the North Zone tournament by recruiting a China-born shuttler from Maris Stella (see above report).

And I am glad this win has taken place in a sport whose national governing body has also been shamefully over-reliant on foreign talent over the past decade.

Such is the Singapore Badminton Association’s poor regard for the ability of local shuttlers that they even disbanded one of their development squads – made up of locals – in January this year because they felt that these youngsters would never be as good as the foreign-born shuttlers in the national team (see previous report here).

Sadly, I don’t think this achievement by the Sports School will have any impact on the thinking of the people who run the SBA. Still, the win is a wonderful vindication of the abilities of our local-born shuttlers.

Great job, guys, and a big thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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A reminder of the value of my passport in Singapore sports

The report:

This report appeared in today’s edition of The Straits Times:

Zhang ‘sacked’ by SBA

(The Straits Times, 24 Mar 2011)

By Jonathan Wong

NATIONAL shuttler Zhang Beiwen has paid the price for her string of disciplinary problems.

The 20-year-old, who has been serving a suspension since Jan 5 – the second time in six months the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) has punished her – was informed by the association that her contract, which expires next Thursday, will not be extended.

‘It was not renewed,’ Zhang confirmed to The Straits Times last night. ‘I have a lot of thoughts about this decision but I don’t want to talk about it… There’s no use talking about it.’

Officials at the SBA declined to comment when contacted yesterday.

Zhang’s latest punishment arose after an alleged falling-out with singles chief coach Luan Ching, who felt that she had again defied his orders by breaking curfew over the New Year period.

Described in the past as a ‘problematic player’, Zhang was subsequently dropped from the national squad and barred from all training sessions since the start of the year.

Last May, she had received a three-month suspension without pay for displaying a poor attitude in training and tournaments, and for failing to carry out instructions from her coach.

The China-born Zhang came to Singapore in 2003 under the Foreign Sports Talent scheme and took up citizenship in 2007 when she was part of the Singapore squad that clinched a team bronze at the World Youth Championships.

But in April 2008, she walked out on the national team to play for various clubs in countries like Malaysia and Taiwan.

She was eventually persuaded to return seven months later and made her South-east Asia Games debut in December 2009, helping Singapore to a team bronze medal.

Once the country’s highest-ranked women’s singles player at world No. 28 last year, she was a notable absentee from the Republic’s team sheet at both the Malaysian Open and Korea Open in January and also the prestigious All-England Championships earlier this month.

Her ranking, however, has since dropped to No. 74, making her the lowest-ranked shuttler in the SBA stable that include compatriots Gu Juan (No.32), Fu Mingtian (42), Chen Jiayuan (48) and Xing Aiying (59).

But her ability on the badminton courts is unquestioned. At the Hong Kong Open last December, her last competitive outing, she took a set off then-world No. 1 Wang Xin of China before losing in three games.

While her chequered past has been well documented, Zhang’s future remains murky. When asked if she intends to stay in Singapore or return to China, she was again evasive.

‘I’m still thinking about it, nothing is confirmed yet,’ she said.

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My thoughts:

What are the chances of the sacked Zhang Beiwen going back to China?

Very high, I suspect, especially if she does not have any other academic or coaching qualifications to help her to make a living in Singapore.

And when she does, another red Singapore passport will be thrown into a rubbish bin because the athlete no longer has a need for it.

I am not blaming Zhang in this instance. If she has no family here, she will have no choice but to leave.

Her case reminds me of how throwers Du Xianhui and Zhang Guirong had to leave Singapore for China in 2006 after being dropped by the Singapore Athletics Association.

But in the past decade, we have also witnessed other FSTs who left Singapore on their own accord soon after getting their citizenship.

Three immediately spring to mind:

* Zhang Xueling (table tennis), who became a citizen in 2001 but left in 2007 to get married in China after winning a string of Commonwealth and SEA Games titles;

* thrower Dong Enxin who went AWOL in 2007 after getting his citizenship in 2001; and

* Xiao Luxi (badminton) who quit in 2004, a year after getting her citizenship, to go back to China because she was burnt out.

And what about the six hockey players from China who were recruited for the national women’s team back in the early years of the new millennium? I hear most have since returned to their country of birth after things did not pan out.

And I am sure there will be more examples to come in the coming years.

Bottom line: this is what the blessed Foreign Sports Talent scheme has effectively reduced our Singapore citizenship to — a cheap bauble easily given away to foreign-born athletes, most of whom, in turn, will easily cast it aside when they no longer have any use for it.

My deepest thanks to all these national sports associations who actively recruit foreign-born athletes to fill their national squads, for helping me to realise just how cheap my citizenship can be.

I am grateful, really I am.

Yours in sport

Singapore Sports Fan

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