It’s survival of the fittest – and we must select the best

ELEVEN years ago, independent shuttle players Gan Teik Chai-Tan Bin Shen qualified for the World Cup on merit, but were not chosen to represent Malaysia in aid. They sought the help of the Olympic Council of Malaysia (OCM) but to no avail.

Eventually, however, they were compensated with money to take part in several international tournaments.

Fast-forward to 2022, and not much seems to have changed.

Now independent shuttle Soong Joo Ven is being denied a chance to represent Malaysia in the Thomas Cup final.

Joo Ven and Cheam June Wei were not called up for centralized training, although they were ranked higher. Instead, juniors still wet behind the ears like Ong Ken Yon and Shaqeem Eiman Shahyar were called up.

The selectors named other independent shuttles such as Lee Zii Jia, Liew Daren, Goh Jin Wei and Ong Yew Sin-Teo Ee Yi, but Jin Wei was disqualified from the Asian Championships despite also being higher ranked and qualified on merit.

Different rules for different tournaments? Different criteria for different players? What is the reasoning? Where – and how – do we draw the line?

Having the top three players – Lee Zii Jia, Liew Daren and Ng Tze Yong – makes sense for the Thomas Cup finals as Tze Yong will be stronger as a third individual.

Instead of naming independent players as reserves, selectors may want to sit out juniors at a major tournament.

Where are the independent shuttles that have proven themselves? It’s bad enough that they have to find their own funding and pay for their own training and trainers.

But if they don’t get a chance to play in big tournaments, it becomes harder to get sponsorship.

Selectors obviously have their own problems. Not only do you have to choose the best, but you also have to weigh various factors such as tactics and setup for the future.

In the end, the athletes who are overlooked pay a heavy price, despite their best efforts.

It’s not just in badminton.

Every time national soccer coach Kim Pan-gon chooses his team, all eyes will be on him to see if the Korean has picked the right squad.

Some will be unhappy. Some will cry badly. It is even worse when external hands interfere in the selection process.

There have also been many such cases in athletics.

If it’s bad at the national level, it’s worse at the lower levels.

In tennis, for example, it has been learned that players who fought hard to help Malaysia qualify for the U16 Davis Cup in Sri Lanka were not selected for the next round in New Delhi, India.

Instead, the decision-makers decided to try again with a late announcement. Players had 24 hours to participate.

A hurt parent wrote to StarSport last month. “The entire selection process was not done in a transparent manner, it was only targeted at specific players,” she claimed.

“People are afraid to speak out about this abuse of power because it could affect their children.”

Other parents also feel disappointed, frustrated, angry and helpless. Nobody wants their children to be victims.

We really need to review our selection policy to make it more transparent and there needs to be clearer guidance. We need to tell athletes in advance what is expected of them.

In Australia, athletes take unfair selection very seriously.

A study by Sandra Hillas entitled “The Elite Athletes Selection System in Australia: Selectors’ Perceptions” has shown that their athletes’ appeals to selection at the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) have increased – five for the Olympics in Atlanta (1996). , 12 for Sydney (2000) and 16 for Athens (2004).

Athletes are becoming bolder in speaking out and responding to what they perceive as poor choices.

But some athletes have to accept it when they’re not good enough. You just have to try harder to make the cut next time.

There are many major events such as SEA Games, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, World Championships and also major events for the juniors.

Will there be more outcry? Or will tears of joy flow?

We pray that the best players will represent Malaysia even if they are disliked by the selectors.

The country must always come first.

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