KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has named 15-year-old shuttler Goh Jin Wei and former world number one LeeChong Wei in their badminton squad for next month’s Southeast Asian Games.
However, twice Olympic silver medalist Lee will only feature in the men’s team event at the biennial Games for the 11-nation block which will be held in Singapore from June 5-16.
Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) bosses said they wanted Lee, who will return to competition on Sunday following an eight-month doping ban, to play singles elsewhere.
“We’re planning to send him to the U.S. Open (June 16-21),”BAM technical director Morten Frost was quoted as saying by The Star on Wednesday.
“There is a clash of dates and we’ve to take into account the travelling time and jet lag.”
The U.S. Open will provide Lee with the opportunity to earn vital ranking points and help him move up from his current position of 45th in the world.
The 32-year-old’s lowly ranking due to his suspension has left him as the third-rated Malaysian with the country only allocated two spots at the world championships in August.
World number 31 Chong Wei Feng and 41st-ranked Zulfadli Zulkiffli occupy the top two slots but Malaysian Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said Lee should be selected.
“I will leave it to the BAM to decide. I will not intervene,” Khairy said.
“But Chong Wei is still the best in the country. He has to be there.
“We all know the reason he didn’t qualify. He would have qualified if he had not been out of action for eight months.
“But we’ve to play by the rules of the game. The top two players are Wei Feng and Zulfadli, and it’s unfair if they don’t get to go.”
Lee’s eight-month absence served to prove that the Malaysian men’s stocks were threadbare without their talisman but the women’s side looks brighter with Kuala Lumpur Open winner Goh named alongside 19-year-old Ho Yen Mei.
Frost said he was confident Goh was ready.
“Jin Wei is only 15 but she’s good. She’ll be the youngest player to make her debut at the Games. I’m looking forward to seeing her in action,” the Dane said.
“She will play in the individual event but it’s not final yet. This is our plan for now and we can still change the selections in case there are any unforeseen circumstances.”