Malaysia call on Lee for world championships

Mon May 11, 2015 5:45am EDT
 
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KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Double Olympic silver medalist Lee Chong Wei will take part at the world championships later this year after Badminton Association of Malaysia controversially selected him on Monday at the expense of better-ranked shuttler Chong Wei Feng.

Lee's world ranking has fallen to 46th after an eight-month ban for doping at last year's championships, leaving him as the third-ranked Malaysian behind Chong (31st) and Zulfadli Zulkiffli (41), who were due the country's two slots at the tournament.

Lee, 32, failed in a bid to get a wildcard for the Aug. 10-16 event in Jakarta but BAM officials selected him anyway after an impressive return to action on Sunday in victory over South Korea at the Sudirman Cup in China.

"We strongly believe that he has a better chance to do well at the world championships," BAM president Tengku Tan Sri Mahaleel Tengku Ariff told reporters after an emergency meeting.

"Just look at the way he played in the Sudirman Cup. He was exceptional."

Zulfadli, 22, was given the change to join Lee, the winner of 55 titles, in Jakarta. Tengku Mahaleel said the 27-year-old Chong's age had counted against him.

"Our system in BAM has changed. We believe in giving younger players more opportunities. Wei Feng is an older player and he has played in two previous world championships," he said.

"We felt that the younger Zulfadli will benefit more by playing in his first world championships."

(Writing by Patrick Johnston in Singapore; Editing by John O'Brien)

 
Malaysia's Lee Chong Wei speaks to media during a news conference in Bangkok November 21, 2014. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha