World No. 1 Lee Chong Wei is pleased with the Super Series Finals draw, but he is irked at the tournament organiser’s lack of foresight in preparing a warm-up hall at the competition venue.
The Finals which start on Wednesday are being played at the much smaller Kuala Lumpur Badminton Stadium (KLBA) in Cheras. The stadium however does not have a warm-up hall unlike the Putra Stadium in Bukit Jalil which usually hosts the Malaysian Open.
The Badminton World Federation (BWF) however has arranged for the players to warm up at a nearby primary school, about five minutes away from the stadium.
And Chong Wei, a three-time Super Series Finals winner from 2008-2010, believes that the BWF should have done better to prepare a hall – even a makeshift one, at the venue itself instead of getting the players to travel to and fro just to warm up.
“I’m not complaining just for my own needs but for the other players, too,” said Chong Wei at the draw ceremony on Tuesday.
“This is supposed to be a world class event and it just doesn’t make sense to have us warm up away from the venue, not to mention the lack of standards.
“It is not safe and we don’t know what kind of condition the hall at the school is in ... there may be injury risks for us.
“It is probably the biggest tournament of the year for some players, apart from the World Championships, and this is really a little embarrassing.
“I feel that the BWF should have shouldered more responsibility to protect the players. How can badminton become as prestigious as tennis if we can’t get the basics right?” asked Chong Wei.
Nevertheless, despite his displeasure, Chong Wei has promised not to hold back and to give his best to win one final title for the year.
The two-time Olympic silver medallist has been drawn in Group A with Denmark’s Jan O Jorgensen, Thailand’s Boonsak Ponsana and China’s Wang Zhengming.
Group B consists of second seed Kenichi Tago of Japan, Hong Kong’s Hu Yun and Indonesian pair Sony Dwi Kuncoro and Tommy Sugiarto.
“At first glance it is a very tough draw, with Jan, Boonsak and Zhengming all capable of beating me,” said Chong Wei.
“But I’m hoping for the best and hopefully I’ll do well especially with the home crowd behind me.”
Meanwhile world No. 4 Jorgensen admitted that being drawn in the same group as Chong Wei was not the ideal start to the tournament.
“I prepared myself for a tough draw and a tough competition but getting Chong Wei in my group right from the start tops it all,” said the 25-year-old Dane.
“But our head coach Kenneth Jonassen has been pushing us incredibly hard since the Hong Kong Open and hopefully I’ll bring in some good results.”
In the women’s singles, top qualifier Wang Shixian is placed in Group A with Malaysian Open champion Tai Tzu-ying of Taiwan, Thailand’s Porntip Buranaprasertsuk and South Korea’s Sung Ji-hyun.
Defending champion and Olympic gold medallist Li Xuerui of China has been drawn in Group B with Japan’s Minatsu Mitani, South Korea’s Bae Yeon-ju and India’s Saina Nehwal.