Badminton: Shuttlers must be 'hungrier' to perform

Tan Kian Chew, president of the Singapore Badminton Association, with Mahender Kapoor, managing director of Li-Ning distributor Sunlight Sports. Li-Ning, a sports apparel and equipment maker, has extended its sponsorship of the association until 2022
Tan Kian Chew, president of the Singapore Badminton Association, with Mahender Kapoor, managing director of Li-Ning distributor Sunlight Sports. Li-Ning, a sports apparel and equipment maker, has extended its sponsorship of the association until 2022.ST PHOTO: LEE JIA WEN

SBA inks $5m deal as sponsor exhorts players to follow Schooling's lead and create history

The national shuttlers have been issued a challenge by one of their main backers: Step up and make history for Singapore badminton on the global stage.

Mahender Kapoor, managing director of Li-Ning distributor Sunlight Sports, told 15 national shuttlers at the Chinese Swimming Club yesterday: "I would like to see Singapore (badminton) perform the same way we have a (Joseph) Schooling who has performed and... do something which nobody has done before."

Swimmer Schooling won Singapore's first Olympic gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

"Our players are capable and we should do it. We have the best coach available in singles today (Mulyo Handoyo), and players just have to buck up and be a little hungrier to perform," added Kapoor.

"Let's perform together - we can provide you support but performance is all yours. Let's perform and show we are capable."

Kapoor was speaking at the announcement of a sponsorship extension between Li-Ning and the Singapore Badminton Association (SBA).

THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET

Our players are capable and we should do it. We have the best coach available in singles today (Mulyo Handoyo), and players just have to buck up and be a little hungrier to perform.

MAHENDER KAPOOR, managing director of Li-Ning distributor Sunlight Sports.

It is the 10th year that the sports apparel and equipment maker is backing the association, with the value of the sponsorship set at $5 million over four years from April 1 this year till March 31, 2022.

The value of the previous sponsorship was $4.5 million, with the four-year stint lasting from 2014 to March 31 this year.

Li-Ning will continue to be the SBA's key sponsor for the national players and the Singapore Open, which takes place from July 17-22 this year. It will be the tournament's official equipment and apparel sponsor for the next four years, and also provide apparel for SBA's athletes, coaches and sparring partners.

The national shuttlers, veterans and newcomers alike, intend to take up Kapoor's challenge. A young Singapore side with an average age of just 22.1 years returned from the April 4-15 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast with no medals, but seasoned player Danny Bawa Chrisnanta believes good results are "just a matter of time".

"I've been in Singapore badminton for more than 10 years - there is something different about this batch," the 29-year-old, a mixed team bronze and men's doubles silver medallist at the 2014 Games in Glasgow, told The Straits Times.

"Mentally they are daring and, if they think (a strategy or shot) is good, they go for it. These younger players are talented, they have potential and they are an asset to Singapore."

Chrisnanta, whose "last goal" is to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, said: "They just need more exposure in competitions and guidance from their parents, friends and coach."

Loh Kean Yew, who played men's singles world No. 1 Kidambi Srikanth of India and Malaysian former world No. 1 Lee Chong Wei at the just concluded Commonwealth Games, is also aiming for good results at next year's SEA Games as well as qualification for the Tokyo Games.

Said the 20-year-old full-time national serviceman: "Any athlete's dream is to win a medal at the Olympic Games, and that's what we're aiming for.

"I'm just going to do my part, train hard, compete and try to win."

• Tickets for the Singapore Open are now on sale, with the early bird promotion ending on May 18. Visit www.sportshub.com.sg/SBO2018 for more information.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2018, with the headline 'Shuttlers must be 'hungrier' to perform'. Print Edition | Subscribe