Zii Jia and Co's early exits a concern, says Rashid

KUALA LUMPUR: The busy Badminton World Federation (BWF) tournament calendar should not be used as an excuse for top players to make early exits from competitions.

This is the view of former international Rashid Sidek in light of several shocking early exits by top players at the Super 750 French Open in Paris.

Malaysia's Lee Zii Jia, Denmark's world No. 1 Viktor Axelsen, Japan's No. 1 Kodai Naraoka and China's Li Shi Feng were among the notable men's singles players who were eliminated early last week.

World No. 10 Zii Jia and Naraoka, who will face each other in the first round of the All England this week, crashed out in the opening round at the Adidas Arena, while Axelsen and Hangzhou Asian Games champion Shi Feng were ousted in the second.

Rashid dismissed the notion that these players might be conserving energy for the Super 1000 All England.

"I don't think so. No top player wants to exit so early, even if they aim to peak at the next tournament.

"Yes, I agree, the tournament schedule is tight, but that should not be an excuse for these top players who compete all season long.

"A top player, regardless of the competition, will aim to at least reach the semi-finals or final.

"I am certain these players who suffered early exits in France would be very frustrated with their performances."

Rashid, a former head coach with the BA of Malaysia (BAM), said Malaysian shuttlers bound for the Paris Olympics in July don't have much time to elevate their game.

The 1992 Thomas Cup winning shuttler believes the players cannot be considered medal prospects at the Olympics if they do not step up quickly.

"There are only a few months left, and the results have not been convincing.

"I know everyone (players and coaches) is working hard. However, if this is our result, maybe we need to examine how others are doing it.

"Perhaps what we are doing right now is simply not good enough.

"I hope something can be done soon, or else it's going to be very challenging at the Olympics," added Rashid.

Former men's doubles world champions Aaron Chia-Soh Wooi Yik were the only Malaysian shuttlers to reach the quarter-finals in Paris before succumbing to reigning world champions Kang Min Hyuk-Seo Seung Jae of South Korea on Friday.

Aaron-Wooi Yik will open their All England campaign against compatriots Goh Sze Fei-Nur Izzuddin Rumsani in the first round.

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