Can new badminton scoring system extend Lee Chong Wei’s career until the Tokyo Olympics?
As Lin Dan suffers shock defeat, the Malaysian starts well at Asia Championships and is confident potential changes will see him play longer
Three-time Olympic badminton silver medallist Lee Chong Wei, of Malaysia, said a proposed new scoring system that will shorten games could help extend his career, but he is yet to commit to making a final push for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
Now 35, the former world No 1 shuttler is competing in the Badminton Asia Championships in Wuhan, where he brushed aside Qiao Bin, of China, in the opening round.
His long-time rival Lin Dan was surprisingly sent home by Wang Tzu-wei, of Taiwan, after three games.
Whether Lin, who is one year younger than Lee and with two Olympic gold medals under his belt, and Lee will continue playing until the Tokyo Games is a matter of much interest in the world of badminton.
“The new system will affect players differently but the playing time will be shortened,” said Lee after his 2-0 victory. “I have tried it before and the player’s mentality is important. You need to get into the game very quickly.
“Many people want to see me play until the Tokyo Olympic Games but I can’t make any promises at this stage as I will be turning 36 later this year. I will keep playing until I have to call it a day.”
The Malaysian later defeated Anthony Sinisuka Ginting, of Indonesia, 2-1, to earn a quarter-final clash against top seed Srikanth Kidambi, a repeat of the Commonwealth Games final.
In another men’s singles tie, Hong Kong’s Angus Ng Ka-long will meet 2016 Rio Olympic champion, Chen Long, in the last eight.
Lee, who took the Commonwealth Games men’s singles gold medal on Australia’s Gold Coast early this month, said his next target would be the Asian Games in August.
That will be his last Asian Games, with the 2022 event in Hangzhou beyond his reach. The proposed new system will introduce best-of-five matches with 11 points in each game rather than the existing 21-point rallies across three games.
The Badminton World Federation said the change is to build greater suspense in the sport and shorten the length of matches, making badminton a more attractive television product.
The world governing body will try to pass the new system at its AGM in three weeks, and if it is ratified, the world tour finals in Guangzhou in December will become the first event to feature the new scoring.