Malaysia is not known for its prowess as a sporting nation. In fact, it’s pretty hard to root for Malaysian athletes because you don’t get to see them progressing very far in tournaments or winning accolades. This is why Malaysian people watch foreign football leagues as opposed to the domestic one. But there is one sport where Malaysian people excel in and support fervently: Badminton.
Believe me when I say every Malaysian person ever born has tried their hand at Badminton at least once. There’s something inexplicable that draws Malaysian people to Badminton at an early age and inspires some to pursue professional careers. It could be the fact Badminton is easier to play and is less physically demanding than contact sports. Or perhaps it’s because deep down in the heart of each Malaysian parent lies the hope that their child could be the next great Malaysian Badminton player. Although Badminton may not be as athletically revered as Track & Field or Swimming, Malaysians have stuck with it and over the decades have produced a throng of Badminton prodigies who perplexingly burn out in their mid-twenties.
You might contend that Badminton is equally popular in Indonesia, China and maybe even Denmark, but I assure you no other country has as many aspiring Badminton players as Malaysia. For evidence of this, observe the burgeoning young talents who play Badminton with their neighbours over the fence or the out of shape average joe who fuels his Badminton fantasies every weekend at the neighbourhood court.
The recent Badminton Olympic final represented the pinnacle of Malaysian Badminton achievement. The nation rejoiced in anticipation of a long awaited Gold medal and the hype surrounding the event brought out the best in Malaysian people. Unfortunately, the final did not have a fairytale ending and this inevitably brought out the worst in Malaysian people. Cue the complaining and short term memory loss.
Nevertheless, being a professional Badminton player will always be on most Malaysian people’s dream job list along with Local Celebrity and Politician. In fact, being a successful Badminton player could pave a path into both those careers.