KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 — The national badminton squad should take the extraordinary success of Singapore shuttler Loh Kean Yew, who won the 2021 Badminton World Championship last Sunday, as motivation continue to achieve success in the future, said former badminton great Datuk Lee Chong Wei.

Although Malaysian badminton fans and observers described the Penang-born player’s achievement as a great blow to the national badminton camp, the former world number one said the national players should not be ashamed and can emulate the spirit of Kean Yew, who achieved the feat in Huelva, Spain.

“Kean Yew’s win is a good example for our players… he is not from a top badminton country but became world champion …anything can happen,” he told Bernama.

Kean Yew, ranked 22nd in the world, clinched the world title after beating India’s K Srikanth 21-15, 22-20 in the final at the Palacio de los Deportes Carolina Marin on Sunday.

It also saw Kean Yew, 22, emerge as the first Singaporean player to win the title while no Malaysian shuttler has been able to do so thus far.

Only Chong Wei has reached the final of the prestigious tournament but finished as runner-up in three editions, in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

Chong Wei said the national players, especially Lee Zii Jia, had a great opportunity to win the championship in Spain due to the absence of several stars from Indonesia, Japan and China.

However, it was unfortunate that Zii Jia, who is also the 2021 All England champion, had to retire in the quarterfinals on Friday due to an injury.

Chong Wei, a three-time Olympic silver medallist, also hoped that Zii Jia would be more careful to avoid the same injury in the future, besides believing that the experience gained by the Kedah-born could help him to record more proud achievements in future.

“Hopefully, Zii Jia will remain focused, regain confidence and keep up the spirit,” he said.

In the quarterfinals, despite winning the first set 21-12 over Anders Antonsen of Denmark, Zii Jia lost 8-21 in the second when a severe blister on his right leg affected his performance. He decided to retire in the rubber set when Antonsen was leading 11-1.

Meanwhile, former national men’s singles player Roslin Hashim considered the participation of Kean Yew for Singapore even though the player was born and raised in the country before the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) offered him a scholarship to the Singapore Sports School when he was 12, as a loss to the national badminton camp.

“It’s not the time to blame anyone ... maybe it’s what he wanted because Singapore gave scholarships and Kean Yew took the opportunity,” he told Bernama.

Although Kean Yew was not the favourite to win the tournament in the beginning, Roslin instead believed that the historic success came from the hard work of the player who wants to be successful in the international badminton arena.

Roslin also called on the Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) to open its eyes to Kean Yew’s success for the direction and glory of the sport in the future.

At the annual tournament, only the professional men’s doubles pair of Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi recorded a proud achievement when they won bronze in the semi-finals last Saturday after losing to the world’s fourth best doubles from Japan, Takuro Hoki-Yugo Kobayashi, 12-21, 9-21. — Bernama