ZHOU MI: “I will never betray China”

Zhou Mi, the former China shuttler was in Malaysia for a one-month training stint. It all began when Malaysia’s coaches, came up with an idea of quality sparring for their […]

ImageZhou Mi, the former China shuttler was in Malaysia for a one-month training stint. It all began when Malaysia’s coaches, came up with an idea of quality sparring for their players as a part of preparation for the World Championship in Madrid.

Story by Noorul Azrin, Badzine correspondent.

The 27-year-old retired from Chinese national team officially earlier this year. Malaysia’s Chief Coach, Yap Kim Hock together with singles coach, Li Mao came out with the proposal in July 2006. They intend to get quality sparring for the women’s singles players from the former world number one. On the first week of August, Zhou Mi arrived in Kuala Lumpur on a tourist visa for the purpose of training and a short holiday.

Zhou Mi trained twice a day with morning session starts at 8.30 until 11am while the evening session starts at 4pm ending at 6pm. Also included in the program are 2 to 3 physical trainings per week. Training sessions were held at the National Sports Council, Bukit Jalil which took place everyday except Sunday. In Malaysia, Zhou Mi trained under Li Mao and sparred with the nation’s number one women’s singles, Wong Mew Choo.

Evidently, the local players benefit the most from the quality sparring. Wong Mew Choo capitalized on this opportunity and improved her performance which can be seen in the recent Korea Open, where Wong Mew Choo stormed into semi final, her best achievement so far in international tournaments. The last time she reached semi final was in Indonesia Open in 2005.

ImageThe shuttler’s arrival in Malaysia sparked some excitement from the local badminton community in which they hope Zhou Mi will stay, perhaps coach and even represent Malaysia in international tournaments. However, they will have to settle with her initial reason that is to train and have a holiday in Malaysia. “Zhou Mi had never mention about her plans to become a coach in Malaysia or even to represent our country in international tournaments”, said BAM (Badminton Association of Malaysia) high performance manager, Lim Kok Wye.

No betrayal

Regardless of the positive response from local people, negative response also arose from China’s head Coach, Li Yong Bo to the media itself. From the accusations of betraying her own country, critics on her decisions, possibility of her representing Malaysia, being a coach to even change her nationality to become a Malaysian. In a statement released through Sohu.com (http://sports.sohu.com) dated August 9, 2006, Zhou Mi claimed that all these speculations arose from the media themselves. “The media is responsible for rousing one simple matter to one big ordeal. Going to Malaysia for a month is a private matter. I come using my own identity and not under China Badminton Association. And I wouldn’t want to change my nationality to play in other countries. Regarding my future, I thank you all for your support, but I really don’t have any decision made at the moment.” Regarding the speculations that she’s here for the money, Zhou Mi said, “I noticed that some people think that I am goaded by benefits. Actually, there is no chance to be rich by playing badminton outside China; you have to depend on yourself for everything.”

According to Mr. Lim, Zhou Mi did not receive any monetary rewards from the Association. “We didn’t provide any monetary rewards, but we provide her free accommodation. She stays at the hostel with other players. During her one-month stay, she also took some time off for a short tour around Kuala Lumpur and the Historical City, Malacca.”

Zhou Mi declined to be interviewed for this article to avoid further negative outcomes on this matter. The shuttler might have made the badminton world stir for a while but seeing the benefits she provided for the players of BA of Malaysia, we certainly hope she will be back to share her skills and experience with our players. She left for China on August 30th.

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