THE Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) needs to cultivate young talent with potential for the international arena immediately if it intends to win the country's first Olympic gold medal.
Former national doubles star Jalani Sidek urged BAM to do so without delay, saying it was not feasible to depend on veteran players like Lee Chong Wei and men's double Koo Kien Kiat-Tan Boon Heong to continue winning honours for Malaysia.
"Actually, BAM is still depending on these three players and I don't see them making any effort to scout for players with talent for international championships," Jalani said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
In the recent London Olympics, Chong Wei just missed bagging Malaysia's first gold medal when he lost to his nemesis from China and World No 1, Lin Dan, 21-15, 10-21, 19-21 at Wembley Arena.
Kien Keat-Boon Heong faced further disappointment when they lost to Koreans Jung Jae Sung-Lee Yong Dae 21-23, 10-21 in the playoff for the bronze medal.
Jalani, who won the 1992 Barcelona Olympics doubles bronze with his brother Razif, said BAM must now allow the trio to choose their own paths, based on their various international successes.
"The three (Chong Wei and Kien Keat-Boon Heong) have achieved numerous triumphs on the world stage, so we can now shift our focus to strengthening a succession line-up, even from outside (the country)," said Jalani.
"Although this (developing young talent) would take a long time, between eight to 10 years, the main thing is to produce players with the calibre to compete in the Olympics."
He also criticised BAM's coaching system, saying: "We're always changing the men's doubles coach including Rexy Mainaky and Yoo Yong Sung. This is not a healthy method.
"As we know, it takes a long time to build an understanding between a player and a coach. Even if the coach is of Olympic ranking, constant changes will jeopardise the players' performance," he said. Bernama